A strange old respect

E.J. Dionne continues to disappoint those conservative pundits who want to believe that he is a “reasonable, informed, engaged commentator,” as opposed to a knee-jerk partisan. This time he does so by arguing against the confirmation of Judge Roberts, described by Dionne’s liberal colleague David Broder as “so obviously — ridiculously — well-equipped to lead government’s third branch that it is hard to imagine how any Democrats can justify a vote against his confirmation.”
Actually, it is hard, even after reading Dionne’s piece, to imagine how he justifies a vote against Roberts. On the one hand, Dionne thinks the Chief Justice “is hired on behalf of all of us.” On the other hand, he complains that Roberts sees, and can argue, both sides of an issue.
In the end, Dionne’s objection seems to be that the Senate needs more assurances than it received about how Roberts would use his power (i.e. decide particular issues). But Dionne never mentions Roberts’ stated reason for not providing such assurances — the ethical requirement not to prejudge issues he may have to decide. Nor does he acknowledge that Justice Ginsburg (among others) was easily confirmed after refusing to tell the Senate her views on dozens of substantive issues.

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