Readers tangle over John Roberts' conservative credentials. Plus: Was Roberts a better pick for women than Edith Jones?

Published July 23, 2005 8:44PM (EDT)

[Read "We've Got to Bork Roberts!" by Rebecca Traister and "Not Another White Man!" by Farhad Manjoo.]

I was very disappointed to read "We've Got to Bork Robert," Salon's account of the minuscule New York protest regarding John Roberts' nomination to the Supreme Court.

It's very disheartening to see protest leaders arguing that a Supreme Court justice needs to represent the views of a majority of Americans when it comes to abortion. That logic sounds awfully familiar. Let's take a step back and imagine (however implausible it seems) that President Bush had nominated a supporter of gay marriage to the Supreme Court. What would the Christian right be crowing about? Why, they'd be saying, "How could the president choose someone who doesn't represent the majority's view that gays should not be allowed to wed?"

So let's stop using this logic to argue against Roberts' confirmation. The views of the majority -- whether it's regarding privacy, free speech, abortion, gay marriage or owning firearms -- have absolutely nothing to do with the Supreme Court. I'm no fan of Roberts either, but please, find a better reason to complain about him.

-- Daniel Jones

As a Deaniac, pro-choice, anti-Iraq-war liberal from Washington, D.C., my Bush-hating credentials are as strong as anyone's.

But I must say, liberals are embarrassing themselves with the knee-jerk reaction to the Roberts nomination. The fact is, this man has a distinguished, if relatively short, career. His anti-Roe vs. Wade credentials are unclear; and abortion as a stand-alone litmus test of suitability is an absurdity when there are thousands of critical issues affecting our country. Complaints about his gender and race are obnoxious examples of identity politics and ring truly hollow when leveled against an administration whose Cabinet is packed with women and ethnic minorities but that still manages to enact policy after policy I disagree with.

I strongly encourage you and the rest of the left to give the man a chance. Watch his hearings closely. If he turns out to be objectionable, we will fight him; I'll be first out of the gate. But for now, leave the hysterics to shrill wackos like Ann Coulter, whose antipathy toward Judge Roberts may be his strongest endorsement. There's no need to Bork a man who may in the end be another David Souter.

-- Eric Emrey

I disagree completely with those who say that Democrats should let this nomination pass through easily. From a political point of view, to kow-tow now would be to dig our own graves.

The fact of the matter is, the public is alienated from the Democratic Party because there doesn't seem to be any fight in it. The Republicans have fought hard and have won because of it. We can't be the party of appeasement and expect any respect from the American people. Democrats must fight for the values of their party.

If we don't fight now, we risk losing future voters who will eventually be scared off by conservative incompetence and extremism. As a hypothetical, take Roe vs. Wade. Should it be overturned, the Democrats would be able to take that to the bank. Unless they are seen as weak, in which case they will continue to lose out to the solid voters within Bush's base as thousands of potential voters stay home again.

I'm not saying filibuster for months on end. But let's at least rip this guy without mercy and fire up the base. It's certainly a start.

-- Tim Lewis

It's not a shock to me that all the letters maintaining that the left should just roll over and have Roberts confirmed were from men. Although I agree that the Plame-Rove-Fitzgerald investigation should be front and center, it's easy to be complacent about Roe when your body is not the one on the line. If women lose our reproductive rights, we become less than citizens: We become incubators. So call me a single-issue voter; my personhood is important to me.

-- Alice Marwick

Farhad Manjoo's article conflates the concept of the representation of women and minorities on the Supreme Court and the selection of women and minorities irrespective of whether they represent the voice of the groups they belong to.

Was Clarence Thomas a victory for those who celebrate diversity, in spite of the fact that Thomas is little more than a mouthpiece for Antonin Scalia? Thomas is just the latest in a long line of women and minorities (Condoleezza Rice, Janice Rogers, Ward Connerly and Alberto Gonzales, to name a few) who are willing to espouse positions legitimizing the conservative viewpoint in exchange for lending their status as women or minorities to those politicians who wish to maintain or even exacerbate the political and economic inequalities in this country.

Manjoo states that "if my choice were between Jones and Roberts, two judges who are more or less equally conservative, I'd choose Jones." Roberts lacks a definitive judicial history, and so his views on a number of crucial legal precedents are in question. Jones, on the other hand, is clearly and unapologetically against a woman's right to choose.

This is objectionable because Jones is so fundamentally opposed to the interests of women that, for all intents and purposes in the selection process, she shouldn't be considered a woman! That is to say, she should not be granted the benefits that a woman receives in the political process (i.e., that her selection would contribute to diversity).

If and when the Supreme Court eviscerates the rights of women and people of color, I'm not going to feel any better about it if the picture of the justices that perpetrate this crime on the people of America is diverse.

-- Michael Rondeau

Am I the only one in America flabbergasted by the deafening silence from women's groups over the loss of their first seat on the Supreme Court with Bush's nomination of John Roberts?

The debate over the Supreme Court seat left vacant by Sandra Day O'Connor's resignation has begun. President Bush and his people have shrewdly cut the legs out from the opposition by nominating a corn-fed legal genius who beat every Easterner at Harvard and who has kept his mouth shut during stints for two Republican presidents. In the private sector he has shown himself to be a first-rate practitioner before the high court.

So there will be no filibuster and, assuming Roberts smiles and shrugs his way through his confirmation hearings, he will have taken O'Connor's spot for the next 20 to 30 years. Another good boy for the boys.

So much for two women on the highest court in the land. We had more women in my law school class at Columbia in 1968 (three, to be exact). Time marches backward for the fairer sex. So much for two Supreme Court justices who know firsthand what being pregnant or having a baby is like, who know firsthand what sex discrimination is for working professionals and who understand at a gut level, not a religious or ideological level, what goes into the decision to keep and raise a child or to abort.

So where does this leave womankind? The leaders of women's groups may have done so well enough professionally and economically to become part of America's power elite, but millions of others (not to mention their fathers, sons and husbands) need a cool female perspective on the court that can educate her peers to the realities of being a woman in America. And Justice Ginsberg needs some sisterly company.

-- Steven Conn

By Salon Staff

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