5.18.2009

Anus of the Law

Like anyone who was paying any attention to him didn't understand what a right-wing ideologue this guy was. Listening the the right gear up for fighting anyone Obama appoints is comical.

From Jeffrey Toobin via the New Yorker:

When John G. Roberts, Jr., emerges from behind the red curtains and takes his place in the middle of the Supreme Court bench, he usually wears a pair of reading glasses, which he peers over to see the lawyers arguing before him. It’s an old-fashioned look for the Chief Justice of the United States, who is fifty-four, but, even with the glasses, there’s no mistaking that Roberts is the youngest person on the Court. (John Paul Stevens, the senior Associate Justice, who sits to Roberts’s right, is thirty-five years older.) Roberts’s face is unlined, his shoulders are broad and athletic, and only a few wisps of gray hair mark him as changed in any way from the judge who charmed the Senate Judiciary Committee at his confirmation hearing, in 2005.

[snip]

On issues of Presidential power, Roberts has been to Scalia’s right—a position that’s in keeping with his roots in the Reagan Administration. “John was shaped by working at the White House, where you develop a mind-set of defending Presidential power,” the lawyer who worked with Roberts in the Reagan years said. Just a few days before Bush appointed Roberts to the Supreme Court, in 2005, Roberts joined an opinion on the D.C. Circuit in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld that upheld the Bush Administration’s position on the treatment of detainees at Guantánamo Bay. (With Roberts recused from the case, the Supreme Court overruled that decision in 2006, by a five-to-three vote, with Kennedy joining the liberals.) Scalia has occasionally shown a libertarian streak, but Roberts, true to his White House past, has consistently voted to uphold the prerogatives of the executive, especially the military, against the other branches. Last year, Roberts dissented from Kennedy’s opinion for a five-to-four Court in Boumediene v. Bush, which held that the Military Commissions Act of 2006 violated the rights of Guantánamo detainees. Roberts saw the case as mostly a contest between the executive branch and the rest of the federal government. “Today the Court strikes down as inadequate the most generous set of procedural protections ever afforded aliens detained by this country as enemy combatants,” Roberts wrote in his dissent. “One cannot help but think . . . that this decision is not really about the detainees at all, but about control of federal policy regarding enemy combatants.”

Roberts’s solicitude for the President and the military extends to lower-profile cases as well. In Winter v. National Resources Defense Council, the question was whether the Navy had to comply with a federal environmental law protecting dolphins and other wildlife while conducting submarine exercises off California. Roberts said no. “We do not discount the importance of plaintiffs’ ecological, scientific, and recreational interests in marine mammals,” the Chief Justice wrote. “Those interests, however, are plainly outweighed by the Navy’s need to conduct realistic training exercises to ensure that it is able to neutralize the threat posed by enemy submarines.” Though Roberts was writing for only a five-to-four majority, he added, “Where the public interest lies does not strike us as a close question.”

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