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Day July 19, 2005

Prediction: Roberts will be confirmed easily

Judge John Roberts is the President’s nominee to succeed Justice O’Connor on the Supreme Court. From a purely political perspective, this was an incredibly shrewd move on the part of the Administration, as you’d expect. Roberts is fairly conservative, more in the mold of Rehnquist (for whom he once clerked) and less in the mold of Scalia or Thomas. Definitely more conservative (at this point) than O’Connor has been for much of her tenure on the Court. Basically, Roberts is about as conservative as you could get from a nominee without starting to give progressive and liberals ammunition.

And he’ll be confirmed relatively easily, because unlike a Janice Rogers Brown, Judge Roberts easily fits into a Republican definition of the “mainstream,” which by sometime tomorrow will become the country’s definition of mainstream by virtue of a media saturation campaign. Unless we see a major skeleton in the closet this summer, the Senate won’t have much reason to deny Bush his choice. His credentials are solid, and although there will be a massive campaign on the part of liberal action groups to portray Roberts as actively hostile to women’s reproductive rights, he’s more subtle than he’ll be given credit for by PFAW, etc. Roberts is on record regarding Roe v. Wade as the “settled law of the land” but Prof. Balkin of Yale is undoubtedly correct with his “reverse litmus test” posts: Roberts will likely be amenable to trimming away what a right to abortion means in procedural terms around the edges. In this, he’ll fit into the Rehnquist Court’s strategy nicely — instead of overruling Warren and Burger Court precedents, just deactivate them in practical cases by procedural and interpretive restriction.

We can expect the Administration to begin a campaign along the lines of “we took your advice, now it’s time for Democrats to consent.” Probably by the time we wake up tomorrow. Oh, wait, Foxnews.com already has a special section up…