As Whirledview readers know, I wanted to give him space to prove himself worthy of the nomination. He had a chance to be forthright, to establish his trustworthiness. He muffed it.
The equivocation about what “being a member means” disturbs me more than any membership in the Federalist Society could.
The equivocation about whether he “paid dues” or was just a deadbeat somehow tagged as a leader by the Society is truly outrageous.
Talk about the worst sort of weaseling waffling legalistic hairsplitting!
He could have admitted it up front: yes, I was a member of the steering committee. I was the bridge between the Society and members of my law firm.
Federalist Society Executive Vice President Leonard A. Leo has tried to soft peddle the latter role. He says that “being a point of contact” doesn’t mean much, according to the Washington Post on July 25.
But even a minimally politically aware man wouldn’t have allowed his name to be soiled by public association with a stridently ideological organization he didn’t believe in. A busy man wouldn’t have become the organization’s messenger to colleagues he respected if he didn’t feel some missionary commitment to the ideas he was conveying.
Back then, however, John G. Roberts hadn’t yet set his sights on the federal judiciary, so he was being honest, open, honorable, about his political convictions. Unfortunately for Roberts the White House has been running true to form and playing the equivocation game, too. Both nominee and nominator have forgotten the first rule of damage control: get the nasty truth out fast and get beyond it. A factual two sentence description of how Roberts was involved with the Federalist Society would have taken most of the sting out of it.
The Federalist Society doesn’t represent my views, but it’s legal. It’s part of the national conversation, and such an association is hardly unexpected. Many members of the current administration are or have been members.
I would have expected the Senate to interrogate the nominee very intensely about his position regarding the judiciary's relation to the executive and the legislature, his approach to the Constitution, etc. I would expect the Senate to demand access to papers relating to his service in the Justice Department during the Nixon years. But I would not feel entitled to insist that his views harmonize totally with mine. I am a Democrat. He is a Republican.
But I have lost all patience with high level nominees who suffer from selective amnesia. They want to conceal a potential disqualifier, but they know they mustn’t lie. Lying involves perjury, a federal crime. So they say, “I have no recollection.” Who can prove otherwise?
I wouldn’t expect John G. Roberts or anyone else to remember buying a package of ripple potato chips for a Fourth of July picnic in 1987.
But not remembering what he did for the Federalist Society?
Playing with words when a damning document has been found?
We’re talking about the moral and intellectual caliber of a nominee to the highest court in the land. If he really has forgotten so many details about his association with the Federalist Society, he is suffering from some form of premature dementia, which surely disqualifies him for this position. If he’s compos mentis, he is lying.
John Roberts has a nice smile, but snake oil sells better when the hawker’s got charm. Let’s not buy it.