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Opening Arguments

Almost live judicial blogging

President Bush has just named John Roberts to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court. The consensus seems to be that 1) he is a Rehnquist (i.e. a "mainstream conservative," whatever that means in judicial terms) rather than a "movement conservative" like Scalia and Thomas, 2) the Democrats will huff and puff but Roberts will be confirmed, and 3) Bush again showed his political genius by getting Washington to talk all day about Judge Edith Clement, forcing all the hard-left opposition to crank out their screeds against her, then throwing everybody a curve by naming Roberts, forcing them to crank out their stuff about him, pretty much marginalizing them by showing them for what they are. (Lots of links about Roberts here, via Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit.)

My first reaction: It was bad enough when teachers, cops and doctors started looking younger than me, but a Supreme Court justice? I can see it coming: The next president will look younger than me, too. (But only for the first six months; that office tends to really age a person.)

Actually, Roberts is very young, judicially speaking, only 50. That means, if we use the ages of the current justices as a yardstick, he is likely to be involved in the intimate details of American life for more than 30 years -- that's two generations. So, while people like me are generally pleased with the nomination, because he will likely move the court incrementally to the right and bring constitutional textualism and originalism back to the forefront, we should want to learn as much as we can about him (if for no other reason than the fact that justices often don't turn out quite the way the presidents who nominated them thought they would). We're not likely to get it from the confirmation hearings, unfortunately, considering that Republicans will lob him softballs and Democrats will just be posturing for their interest groups.

Here's some biographical information put out by the people at Harvard, where Roberts went to law school. One interesting tidbit President Bush offered is that Roberts moved to Indiana when he was very young and "worked in a steel mill." Holy cow, an almost-a-Hoosier on the Supreme Court; we have to support him, knowing that. Came here young, worked in a steel mill; that describes a hero of mine, for what it's worth. (Be honest now: Is there anyplace else in the world you can see the Supreme Court and Bill Monroe in the same paragraph?)

If you're really into the finer points of constitutional interpretation, check out this to find out why people like me are so glad to see someone like Roberts nominated.