Chief Justice John Roberts might attend the Butler University commencement ceremonies as a relative -- his niece is graduating -- but he is apparently too controversial to be invited to speak at the occasion:
University faculty members scuttled a student-led drive to invite Roberts to speak at the May 8 ceremony, a decision that has disappointed the students and some conservatives on the Indianapolis campus.
"We try to steer clear of political divides if possible," Butler Faculty Senate President Jeanne VanTyle told the Indianapolis Star.
VanTyle says the school has made only two exceptions to its no-politicians rule in three decades: once for Democrat Evan Bayh when he was governor and last year for Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels.
"Last year, I watched half of the audience cheer and half of the audience frown," VanTyle told the Indianapolis Star. "That's not what someone's commencement ought to be."
I don't want to pick on Butler for not inviting Roberts. They can choose anybody they want to, and breaking their rule for both a Democratic and Republican governor shows a certain evenhandedness. But that "steering clear of political divides" and not liking it when "half the audience cheers and half frowns" is an interesting attitude for a college. I suppose it is safe enough just to invite bland speakers who will send the students off with platitudes about meeting the future and all that. But if I were a student there, I'd want someone with a little more bite, someone I could either cheer or leave fuming about. Wouldn't it be a hell of a commencement to have Roberts and President Obama, duking it out over the stuff they've been sniping at each other about in dribs and drabs?