Friday, September 23, 2005

Bayh Says No To Roberts

Indiana's junior Senator and likely Democratic presidential candidate in 2008 announced today that he would vote against the confirmation of Hoosier native Judge John Roberts as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court while conceding that Roberts would nonetheless be confirmed by the Senate. In a statement released by his office, Bayh said: Regrettably, therefore, I cannot vote to confirm, not because I oppose John Roberts, but because we simply do not know enough about his views on critical issues to make a considered judgment. And that is the standard that must be met for a lifetime appointment to our nation's highest court.

Senator Bayh expressed frustration that Judge Roberts had not been more forthcoming in his views during hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Bayh said, "It did not need to be this way. When I introduced Judge Roberts at his confirmation hearing, I said that I looked forward to a full and clarifying discussion of his views. Regrettably, that did not happen." Bayh complained that the confirmation process was designed to "maintain amibuity rather than resolve it." He said, "Voting to confirm a nominee to the Supreme Court must be more than an act of faith."

Advance Indiana has spoken out vocally against Roberts' confirmation as Chief Justice based upon earlier writings as a young lawyer in the Reagan Administration, which showed him to be a rigid, ideological conservative who questioned the legitimacy of the constitutional right to privacy, narrowly interpreted the Separation Clause and was dismissive of any law intended to bring equality to women and minorities. Bayh was willing to give Roberts the benefit of the doubt with respect to those writings because he was a young lawyer at the time; however, Bayh correctly noted that "when presented with the opportunity to disavow the positions in his memos, Roberts refused." Instead, Bayh said Roberts' answer was that "he was a lawyer arguing the position of the Administration."

Indiana's senior Senator Richard Lugar had already announced he intended to vote for Roberts' confirmation. With Bayh's announcement, all likely contenders for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination in the Senate will be voting against Roberts. Both Hillary Clinton and John Kerry announced their opposition earlier. The Indiana Republican Party mounted an e-mail campaign a few weeks back to pressure Senator Bayh into supporting Roberts' confirmation. Critics are likely to accuse Bayh of voting against Roberts simply to curry favor with liberal voters in anticipation of his presidential bid. But the rationale Bayh offered in support of his vote against confirmation is based upon sound and logical reasoning.


Dan S. said...

Stumbled on your blog, and I've gotta say you, and Senator Bayh, are wrong about Roberts. Unless your goal is to rewrite the Constitution, Advise and Consent is not designed as an exercise to browbeat judicial appointees into promising to deliver on any particular political ideology. Rather it is simply to make sure the appointee is well-qualified for the job and has no skeletons that can be exploited to influence their independence.

As one Indiana native who hoped to be able to support Bayh for President, I'm now convinced instead to oppose him. Because in the Roberts case, he has demonstrated that he is willing to abandon basic principle in order to pander to the liberal base for their support. Senator Bayh can no longer claim to be his own man.

I don't know how Roberts will vote on critical cases about abortion or affirmative action, which are really what your friends are talking about when they use "Privacy Rights" and "Civil Rights". But I do know that he is probably the most intelligent and well-qualified nominee to the Supreme Court that has been named in my lifetime, and perhaps ever.

And I'm sort of proud that our struggling little state produced this man who just might become the best Supreme Court Chief Justice in history.

Advance Indiana said...


I appreciate your comments. I don't disagree that Roberts is a highly qualified candidate for the position. But as we have seen, members of the Supreme Court interpret our Constitution so differently from case to case. The right to privacy is very important to me and it does involve much more than abortion. Roberts refers to this as a "so-called right." People with his views, for example, think that government can regulate whether or not you can use contraceptives as a form of birth control, with whom and how you have sex with another person and to whom you can be married. I'm with Barry Goldwater, who was fond of saying "I want the government off my back and out of my bedroom."

Roberts also takes a very narrow view of the Separation Clause--he has said that he doesn't think the Constitution prohibits prayer in school. Anyone living in Indiana is well aware just how far that the moral righteous police want to go in imposing their religious views on the rest of us. I am a Christian, but I don't believe Christianity should be shoved in our faces in our public schools and our government institutions. I'm afraid that's what Roberts would allow.

Having said that, I hope I'm wrong and you are right and he does become a great Supreme Court Chief Justice.

Jeff Newman said...

The Dan S. comment "Senator Bayh can no longer claim to be his own man" makes me wonder exacatly when Bayh has ever demonstrated such a quality.

If I'm not mistaken, Bayh was the last of the early Democratic presidential hopefuls to announce his opposition to Roberts, which leads one to believe that it was a calculated safe move on his part.

Obviously this can be nothing but speculation, but I wonder what he would have done had the others announced their intentions to vote for Roberts rather than against.

Evan Bayh is a finger-in-the-wind politician; all ambition with no conviction. I understand he's known as "plastic man" on the Hill, which doesn't come as a surprise to me.

Jeff Newman said...

I just read the Indy Star article, this sums up what I was saying above:

Ron Faucheux, a political analyst who teaches at George Washington University, said voting against Roberts is the easiest stance for Democrats with an eye on the White House.

"It's politically the easiest, safest course of action because between now and the next election, Roberts is likely to take some position on the Supreme Court that would not be supported by a majority of the Democratic base," Faucheux said.

Kay said...

The term ‘plastic man’ does not refer to a politician that is, “all ambition with no conviction” as you have stated. The term, plastic man,’ was penned to refer to a democratic politician who consistently wins in a republican state. In this way, Evan Bayh is a plastic man but most definitely not in the negative sense you have implied.

If anything, Bayh’s no vote on Roberts’s nomination supports the fact that he is not a finger-in-the-wind politician without conviction. If one understands that conviction is: an unshakable belief in something without need for proof or evidence. And at the same time accepts that Bayh has acknowledged that he will be voting against the tide of a foregone conclusion—Roberts’s confirmation. Bayh’s statement supports the fact that he is consistent with his stated opposition—that he will not vote based on what many refer to as ‘blind faith’. Whereas the majority voting to confirm will be doing so without any proof or evidence that Roberts may or may not serve with an ideologist agenda—or for that matter, what exactly that agenda may be. (Does the conundrum ((tossing the monkey)) get any more evilly wretched than that?)

Speaking of Senator Bayh it may also interest some to know that last Thursday he , “ co-sponsored legislation to ensure that workers helping to rebuild New Orleans and other cities damaged by Hurricane Katrina receive fair wages for their efforts. Earlier this month, President Bush suspended a federal law that requires workers on federal contracts to be paid according to average wages in the region. Bayh said that cutting wages for workers repairing the Gulf Coast hurts the families who need support the most. “ (More here:

Plastic man:


Anonymous said...

The writer of this "piece" is an idiot. You are upset over statements written by Judge Roberts when he worked for the Reagan Administration!?! You are complete was his job to support the opinion of his boss! That is the job of every laywer in every administration. They do not express their own opinions! There own views DO NOT matter. They follow the consitution...not the interest groups! IDIOTS!!!