Perhaps I am naive about this, but I feel it’s the job of Congress, specifically the Senate Judiciary committee, to examine presidential nominees to the bench for competence and extremism, not ideology. If an nominee isn’t unqualified (Harriet Miers) or a demagogue (Robert Bork), the nomination should pass. After all, there is no guarantee how a justice will vote once on the Court; some of the most liberal justices have been nominated by conservative presidents, and even Sandra Day O’Connor has moved to the center over the years.
From what I’ve read about them, John Roberts and Samuel Alito seem like reasonable, conservative choices, as well as honorable men with solid records. I do not agree with their judicial philosophies, per se, but I agree even less with the Democrats’ knee-jerk reaction to block both nominees. We should be grateful these nominees have been as moderate as they are.
I understand the concern about rolling back Roe v. Wade and I share it. But there are many, many other complicated issues going to face the Court in the next, oh, 25 years, and having qualified, reasonable jurists there able to handle complexity is terribly important. For now, all we can hope for are qualified candidates who don’t adhere to strict ideology and who are able to take nuanced views. People unlike Clarence Thomas, in other words.
Our day will come again.
Update: As I semi-predicted yesterday, Alito is finding support among liberals who are able to look past the man who nominated him.