i haven't posted since bush announced his nomination of john roberts to replace o'conner on the supreme court. just a couple of thoughts:
first, i agree that this nomination is not just a distraction from the plame-rove matter. it's possible that bush and his advisors decided to move the announcement time up to knock rove off the front pages this morning. but this is still a lot more than a mere distraction. a supreme court nomination is always important in its own right.
but even if it were a distraction, so what? is it necessarily a bad thing? personally, i think the rove story was not going to be on the front pages much longer anyway. the press has a notoriously short attention span. after a couple of days--a week tops--of reporting on the same story they need either a big new development or they will lose interest. and the press losing interest is worse than the press getting distracted. if the press gets distracted, they have a better chance of coming back to the story later when something new happens.
besides, the rove story was not ultimately being driven by the press, it was being driven by the independent counsel's office. the fact that rove and plame are not the top story has no bearing on what will ultimately decide rove's fate: whether he gets indicted or not. sure, scott mcclellan will probably have a more pleasant gaggle experience this week, but that's not what this is all about. we can afford to be patient about this, even if it means giving scotty a break.
second, barring some unforeseen scandal popping up (e.g. a secret pedophile prostitution ring being run out of judge roberts' basement), he is going to be confirmed. i probably don't agree with many of his views, but there's really no serious question that he's qualified. at least, i haven't seen anyone raise anything that would bring his qualifications into question. this is not a clarence thomas or judge bork, two former supreme court appointees who i did not think were qualified.
other bloggers have pointed out decisions in judge roberts' past that were wrongly decided (e.g. 1 2). and, at least from what i've read about those cases, roberts was on the wrong side in my opinion. but i honesty don't expect much more from a bush appointee. and like it or not, o'conner's replacement will be a bush appointee. my disagreement with an opinion does not make someone unqualified. he's never going to be my favorite justice, but i can't honestly claim that only of those opinions i disagree with should disqualify him from the high court.
of course, i could still change my mind about this guy. before last night i would not have recognized his name (though i had read at least one of his opinions. the name roberts just didn't mean anything to me at the time)
one thing that doesn't hold much water for me is the quote taken from roberts' 1991 supreme court brief in the casey case. roberts wrote that brief when he was deputy solicitor general for the first bush administration. as a lawyer for that administration, it was his job to present the views of his client in the brief. maybe it's just because i am a lawyer myself and don't want to be held responsible for every position i take in the course of my job, but i really do think that his legal writings must be viewed in the context that he wrote them. in this case, the quoted language was taken from something he wrote as an advocate for a pre-determined legal position.
roberts is a conservative guy, that's why he was solicitor for a republican administration in 1991. he probably does believe that roe v. wade was wrongly decided. it's also possible that he doesn't believe that. his writings advocating on behalf of a client don't tell us much either way.
i can't say i'm for the roberts' nomination. but i really don't think there's any serious question that he will be confirmed. and what he does once he's on the bench none of us know for sure.