When a president nominates someone to the Supreme Court, they’re making history.
When a president nominates someone to be chief justice, they’re making the monumental decision of who will lead the nation’s highest judicial body.
When a president has the chance to choose two justices at the same time, his opportunity to affect the country borders on unprecedented.
When I first learned of President Bush’s nomination of Judge John G. Roberts as the Supreme Court’s 17th chief justice, I dismissed it like I dismiss much of the news coming from the White House these days.
As a liberal, I rarely see eye to eye with the decisions made by the Bush administration.
I thought his choice of nominee to head the Supreme Court would be no different.
Yet, the more I learn about Roberts, the more I am surprised at Bush.
I feared that Bush would try to stack the court with more rightwing conservative justices like Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia, the two justices currently on the Supreme Court whom Bush admires most.
After all, Bush seems to have made every attempt to appoint conservatives to positions of importance within his administration.
Bush has a majority in the Senate, the body of Congress that confirms nominees, and is in his second, and final, term.
However, to Bush’s credit, his nomination of Roberts breaks the mold. Roberts is not as hard-line a conservative as Scalia and Thomas and says he believes in the constitutional right to privacy that’s been recognized by the Supreme Court in recent cases protecting gay rights, abortion and the use of contraceptives.
Also, unlike Scalia, Roberts believes it’s acceptable to base laws on legislative history. Clarence Thomas bases his method of constitutional interpretation on his view of the intent of the original framers, but Roberts recognizes that this is not always possible.
What impresses me the most about Roberts is that although he’s been brought into the spotlight and the history books by Bush, he’s staying true to his convictions and being his own man