Which Is It?

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

Via Jessica of Feministing, I see that confirmthem.org, a conservative site watching the John Roberts confirmation hearings, has a couple of contrasting posts worth reading. First, a poster named Andrew was not at all pleased with many of Roberts’ answers:

Repeatedly, Judge Roberts said things like this: “if you think that the decision was correctly decided or wrongly decided, that doesn’t answer the question of whether or not it should be revisited.” This is the exact antithesis of judicial modesty and humility, and is instead a blank check that allows judges to write activist decisions without fear of later being overturned by their modest and restrained successors. It is a recipe for perpetuating judicial mistakes, and undermining constitutional government. Yes, judges should be bound down by precedents, but only precedents that they are convinced may have been decided correctly.

Read the whole post, it’s from a staunchly conservative point of view, but thoughtful and well-considered. Looked at in a certain light, Roberts did seem to go slightly out of his way to please some of the Democratic senators—Sen. Herbert Kohl certainly appreciated the fact that Roberts apparently agrees with Griswold, which found that the Constitution contained a right to privacy and right to contraception—and didn’t quite go out of his way reassure the conservative senators that he was on their side. On the other hand, Roberts was mostly taciturn and evasive, so all we can really do is read the tea leaves. Another confirmthem.org post read them this way:

A top-flight, leading conservative pro-life lawyer with a vibrant Supreme Court practice whose name most readers of this forum would know just walked into the room where I’m sitting. He was thrilled about Roberts’ answers during the dialogue with Specter and indicated his strong approval and endorsement. He explained that Roberts’s answer was carefully framed to provide a basis for revisiting and overturning Roe in the future. Specifically, he indicated that Roberts said that precedent could be overturned on the basis of changing circumstances.

The latter still seems much more likely to me. Besides, as has been discussed before, Roberts could help effectively neuter the right to choose in many states by voting against Planned Parenthood in a case coming before the court this fall, so in many ways, the question of “Keep Roe, overturn Roe?” is beside the point.

In non-abortion news, meanwhile, Marty Lederman has an important discussion of yet another issue discussed during the hearings: On whether Congress can, say, prohibit the president from using torture.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend