National Review on Whitehouse, Sotomayor

Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse soaks up some ink and electrons today for his sharp attack on Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. yesterday during confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.

Of particular note: an attempt to turn Roberts' famous analogy between judge and umpire against him, suggesting that Roberts has been overly partisan. "Some balls and strikes," he said.

At the National Review, Jim Geraghty offers a conservative rebuttal to Whitehouse and his Democratic colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee:

No doubt, the judge was subjected to plenty of scrutiny and tough criticism on Monday. There were accusations that the judge’s thinking was far out of the mainstream, and senators pointed to past comments as examples of sloppy thinking and inappropriate metaphors. After a couple of hours, the opposition was clear, and the argument from a handful of implacably hostile senators was unmistakable: John Roberts is unfit for the Supreme Court.

Of course, the Senate confirmed Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts almost four years ago. But that didn’t stop Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee from giving him second billing on the first day of Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation hearing, repeatedly invoking him as an example of a justice failing to live up to his professed principles.

The opening statement from Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.) was surprising for the degree to which he focused on Roberts’s decision-making instead of on the nominee sitting in front of him. Citing CNN legal commentator Jeffrey Toobin, Whitehouse argued that in every major case since becoming chief justice, Roberts has sided with “the prosecution over the defendant, the state over the condemned, the executive branch over the legislative, and the corporate defendant over the individual plaintiff.” He didn’t provide any details on how Toobin picked “major cases,” how many cases were involved, whether these were decided narrowly or by wide majorities, or even whether Roberts was in the majority or the minority...

The fight before them a foregone conclusion, it appears that hubris, boredom, or unresolved issues with Roberts’s 2005 confirmation vote has driven Senate Democrats to refight old battles. Confident that Sotomayor will sail through the confirmation process, they can now focus on tearing down John Roberts.

Of course, if the focus on Roberts was a bit surprising, it's hardly unusual for Senators to use a big stage for some partisan hectoring. Lord knows the Republicans were at it yesterday, too.

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