One of the left’s first gambits against John Roberts was Senator Dick Durbin’s leak of a false story regarding his interview with Judge Roberts. George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley based a Los Angeles Times column (I can’t find an accessible version) on the leak. Turley wrote in part:
According to two people who attended [an informal] meeting [last week], Roberts was asked by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) what he would do if the law required a ruling that his church considers immoral. Roberts is a devout Catholic and is married to an ardent pro-life activist. The Catholic Church considers abortion to be a sin, and various church leaders have stated that government officials supporting abortion should be denied religious rites such as communion. (Pope Benedict XVI is often cited as holding this strict view of the merging of a person’s faith and public duties).
Renowned for his unflappable style in oral argument, Roberts appeared nonplused and, according to sources in the meeting, answered after a long pause that he would probably have to recuse himself.
It was the first unscripted answer in the most carefully scripted nomination in history. It was also the wrong answer. In taking office, a justice takes an oath to uphold the Constitution and the laws of the United States. A judge’s personal religious views should have no role in the interpretation of the laws. (To his credit, Roberts did not say that his faith would control in such a case)….
… [I]n his appellate court confirmation hearings, Roberts was asked specifically whether he could apply Roe vs. Wade and he stated that he could. Now, as he moves toward a job in which he could ultimately be the deciding vote to narrow, preserve or overturn the doctrine, it could be a materially different moral choice for a devout jurist.
Senator Durbin later acknowledged that he was one of Turley’s sources, but — as Charles Hurt reported in the Washington Times — denied the veracity of Turley’s account: “Durbin was source for column about Roberts.”
Today Hurt returns to the story to report that Turley has written Durbin offering documentary proof of the fact that Durbin provided Turley the false account regarding his interview with Judge Roberts: “Durbin offered proof of column.” This is a fascinating story, revelatory of the ways of Washington and one of Washington’s major players. How can it be that the Washington Times is eating the Washington Post’s lunch on it? I think we all know the answer, but that too is another interesting aspect of the story.