Of all places....


The Boston Globe's Scot Lehigh takes to task Massachusetts senators Kerry and Kennedy for their opposition to the nomination of John Roberts.

HOW SHOULD Senate Democrats respond to the example Ted Kennedy and John Kerry set Wednesday in declaring their opposition to John Roberts in a one—two political punch?

By disregarding it.

Why? Well, first let's review the bidding. When Sandra Day O'Connor announced her retirement, Democrats warned President Bush not to nominate a conservative ideologue to replace her on the Supreme Court.

Bush responded by putting up a well—qualified jurist with widely recognized legal skills, someone the Senate unanimously confirmed to the US Court of Appeals in 2003. To rework Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.'s line about FDR, John Roberts has both a first—class intellect and a first—rate temperament.

Then, when Chief Justice William Rehnquist died, the president effectively lowered the ideological stakes by renominating Roberts for the chief justice's job, which means his confirmation would hardly change the court's makeup.

Roberts, as expected, played the Sphinx on many issues during his confirmation hearings. Still, he not only called Roe v. Wade ''settled as a precedent" and thus entitled to respect; he suggested that the subsequent decisions upholding Roe have precedential value as well. What's more, he said he sees an established right of privacy in the Constitution. That's further than some successful past nominees have gone.

Now, with all that as prologue, the party's liberal interest groups are urging Democrats to oppose Roberts in order to send a message to Bush not to make his next nominee to the court a conservative ideologue.

Ed Lasky   9 23 05