The big question for observers on the left and right is whether John Roberts will be a far right conservative on the court or whether he will follow the course of many other conservatives and become more moderate. Despite all the media reports there remains no way to really know, but my fear is that the person who appointed him has more insight into Roberts than anyone else. The appointment process has become increasingly political and we cannot count on a repeat of previous examples.
As it appears Roberts will be confirmed unless something far worse should arise in the Senate hearings, I am looking for any signs of optimism. The Washington Post reports today:
As a private lawyer, John G. Roberts Jr. represented homeless Washingtonians who had lost their government benefits because of city budget cuts. He advocated environmental protections for Lake Tahoe, Glacier Bay and the Grand Canyon. He spent 25 hours assisting a convicted murderer with a death penalty appeal. He even helped gay rights activists win a landmark Supreme Court anti-discrimination case.
The significance of this is questionable. It is likely a case of an attorney representing his client regardless of his personal opinions, while such personal opinions would affect his decisions on the Supreme Court. While we can’t count on these cases to predict Roberts’ behavior, I am happy to see he has fought cases such as these. At very least he is familiar with liberal arguments, and it might be harder for him to totally ignore arguments he has used himself in the past. Unfortunately his record supporting conservative arguments is much stronger.