Interviews with Roberts
I like John Roberts, the public-relations persona we see in committee. He seems a smart guy who you could have a lot of fun discussions with. He’d certainly be great at playing boardgames where you have to follow the strict rules for the larger purpose of a difficult exercise. And he has a good wit with mock-humble irony. He’d fit in very well with my friends.
Which is why I can’t imagine for the life of me our President getting along with him. Everything Roberts stands for seems to be the East Coast elitism Bush has run against for five years, and which one must admit a majority of the country has voted into office. And yet, Bush not only nominated Roberts, but nominated him ahead of many staunch social conservatives who could score easy “identity politics” points, on the basis of his “chemistry” and “good friendship” with the Judge.
To showcase what I am talking about, I’ve pulled quotes from Roberts Senate Testimony, and pasted them in as if Bush was asking them. Remember, the process the Presidency uses to find the nominee is as important or more important than the Senate’s vetting process, so I imagine these questions had to go like this.
BUSH: So John, if Congress writes a law saying I can’t do something in foreign policy, do I git to do it anyway?
ROBERTS: Well, President, I don't want to answer a particular hypothetical that could come before the court, but I'm happy to comment on the memorandum that you're discussing. … And I suspect, if you asked any lawyer for any president of any administration whether they wanted to concede that general principle or if, as careful lawyers, they would prefer that that provision were rewritten or not in there, I am fairly confident, regardless of the administration, that a lawyer for the executive would take the same position. Now, I am also fairly confident that one of the lawyers in the Senate would take the opposite position.
BUSH: Albert says I can protect this country however I need to, even by breaking treaties in order to interrogate prisoners. Are you going to get in the way of that?
ROBERTS: President, that's a question that I don't think can be answered in the abstract. You need to know the particular circumstances and exactly what the facts are and what the legislation would be like, because the argument on the other side -- and as a judge, I would obviously be in a position of considering both arguments, the argument for the legislature and the argument for the executive. The argument on the executive side will rely on authority as commander in chief and whatever authorities derive from that. So it's not something that can be answered in the abstract.
BUSH: I believe in my heart that we need to put God back in the schools. Don’t you see a need?
ROBERTS: No, I don't think there is. Sometimes it's hard to give meaning to a constitutional term in a particular case. But you don't look to your own values and beliefs. You look outside yourself to other sources.
On Gay Marriage:
BUSH: Don’t you think the US Government needs to keep the institution of marriage sacred?
ROBERTS: My understanding there was that there was a question -- whether intervention in that case -- the case was being pursued by private litigants already. The question whether intervention by the federal government in that case was consistent with the attorney general's approach to institutional litigation. That was an approach that he had laid out in several speeches, memoranda. And as a staff member it was my job to call to his attention areas where I thought there may be inconsistencies in areas where he wanted to set policy priorities.
On Church and State:
BUSH: I think God is the most important guiding part of my life. He saved me from alcoholism, and wants me to be here at this time to defend against terror. But those namby liberals think God stands in the way of a secular government, and want to take Him out of classes and government. I know you’re a good Christian, so do you follow that “wall between church and state”?
ROBERTS: Well, I don't know what you mean by absolute separation of church and state. So I don't know what that means when you say absolute separation. I do know this: that my faith and my religious beliefs do not play a role in judging. When it comes to judging, I look to the law books and always have. I don't look to the Bible or any other religious source.
Yeah. It went just like that. Rather, I think the interview went like this:
On War, Torture, Church and State, and Gay Marriage:
BUSH: You gonna make abortion illegal?
BUSH: You gonna tell anyone first?
BUSH: Good. Go git ‘em.