For those who believe in bipartisan judicial restraint, Samuel Alito Jr. poses a dilemma. On the one hand, his vote to strike down a federal ban on machine gun possession in 1996 suggests that he might be a conservative activist who is determined to resurrect limits on congressional authority that have been dormant since the New Deal.
Journalists have reacted to the indictment of Scooter Libby more or less along party lines.
On the left and the right, Harriet Miers is being criticized as an unqualified hack. This magazine has put Miers at the top of its list of the Bush administration's 15 worst hacks (see page 25), and many argue that she doesn't have the qualifications that people look for in Supreme Court nominees. But Miers's nontraditional background doesn't preclude a successful career as a justice.
Moments after President Bush announced the nomination of John Roberts to the Supreme Court, liberal interest groups were attacking Roberts as a conservative ideologue. "In reality John Roberts may be a hard-nosed extremist with a soft conservative facade," wrote the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.
As an explosive showdown over judicial nominations approaches, Republicans are depicting themselves as champions of the will of the majority. "Only in the United States Senate could it be considered a devastating option to allow a vote. Most places call that democracy," Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said in a speech to conservative Christian groups on April 24.To Republicans, the Democratic filibuster of seven of President Bush's judicial nominees is not just an undemocratic tactic; it is an undemocratic tactic being used to protect an undemocratic institution, the U.S. judiciary.
THE MORNING AFTER the Supreme Court struck down the juvenile death penalty as a form of cruel and unusual punishment in Roper v. Simmons, the reaction in the Supreme Court press room was unusually scathing.
This week, the Supreme Court heard arguments about the constitutionality of displaying the Ten Commandments in and around courthouses. As with all hotly contested questions of American life, the tie-breaking vote may be cast by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, and her reaction to two very different Ten Commandment displays in Texas and Kentucky is anyone's guess.
When the Supreme Court struck down state sentencing guidelines last spring in Blakely v. Washington, federal judges prepared for the worst.
During his postelection press conference, President Bush made it clear that he intends to appoint a reliable "strict constructionist" to replace the ailing Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist if and when he retires. According to administration officials, there are eight candidates on Bush's short list, all of whom fit the bill. Senate Democrats will try to distinguish between conservatives and moderates by focusing on the candidates' views of Roe v. Wade.