Today's Blogs

The Next Chief Justice

Bloggers discuss the Senate Judiciary Committee’s approval of John Roberts’ nomination as Supreme Court chief justice. They also join forces to shame representatives into repudiating pork barrel politics, and pile onto the president’s choice to lead the Department of Homeland Security’s immigration bureau.

The next chief justice …:By a vote of 13 to 5, the Senate Judiciary Committee today approved the nomination of John Roberts for chief justice of the Supreme Court, more or less ensuring his confirmation by the full Senate next week.

“Opposing Roberts on ideological grounds was tough,”  concedes liberal ringleader Markos Moulitsas at Daily Kos, suggesting that Democrats should have opposed the nomination “based on the administration’s reluctance to release certain documents.” Instead, he writes, they let Roberts through to stockpile credibility and firepower for a possible showdown on the next SCOTUS nominee. At SCOTUSblog Lyle Denniston also warns that the quiet confirmation is mere prelude. “Lurking in the background of the strong vote for Roberts – and mentioned by several senators – is the likely fight that may unfold when President Bush makes his next nomination to the Court, to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor,” he writes.

D.C. attorney Paul Mirengoff thinks the vote establishes a precedent of partisan interference, rather than co-operation. “A majority of the Committee’s Dems now has effectively endorsed the notion that it is proper for a Senator to vote against a supremely qualified conservative nominee, who receives top marks from the ABA and is backed by such liberal organs as the Washington Post and Los Angeles Times, unless the nominee promises to decide issues the way the Senator desires,” he writes at conservative syndicate Power Line.“If a majority of Democrats vote that way on the Senate floor, then it seems to me that Republicans will have the right to apply this same concept when Democratic presidents nominate liberal judges in the future.”

At the National Review Online’s conservative clubhouse The Corner, Ramesh Ponnuru offers some predictions for the Roberts Court. “1) Roberts will vote with Scalia and Thomas on the parental-notification case and a future partial-birth abortion case. 2) Roberts will decline to join Scalia and Thomas in calling for the overturn of Roe and Casey. 3) Pundits will infer that this move by Roberts means that he is a vote for Roe/Casey. 4) This assumption, by making Roe/Casey look safe, will make it easier to confirm another conservative justice (should a third vacancy arise on Bush’s watch). 5) This assumption will be incorrect.”

Read more about John Roberts.

Bustin’ pork one erstwhile fiscal conservative at a time:Sunday, inspired by eager reader response to an earlier post, InstaPundit Glenn Reynolds, a libertarian, and blogmonger N.Z. Bear of The Truth Laid Bear established PorkBusters, a catalog of congressional pork compiled by readers, intended “to mobilize the blogosphere in support of cuts in wasteful spending to support Katrina relief.”

“Get On The Porkbusters Bandwagon,” cheers Doug Stewart at Literal Barrage. At his Copy Desk, Mark Tapscott of the conservative think-tank the HeritageFoundation follows the anti-pork trail all the way to Capitol Hill. (He celebrates as a victory against pork an amendment, passed yesterday by the Senate, promising to make transparent the process by which earmarks are attached to appropriations bills.)

As of this afternoon, PorkBusters credits only Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., with pledging to sacrifice at least some spending intended for her district. At libertarian-conservative, Tim Chapman is disappointed. “Many Republican members of Congress must be asking themselves, ‘Is Nancy Pelosi the best fiscal conservative this Congress has to offer?’ ” he writes.

“On a cynical note, this is very smart politics, and other Democratic leaders should follow her example,” writesWashington MonthlyPolitical Animal Kevin Drum of Pelosi’s announcement. “Not only does it make Democrats look responsible while painting Republicans like Don Young and Tom Delay as craven looters of the public trust, but let’s face it: none of these cuts are very likely to happen — and even if they did pass, everyone knows the whole thing would die in the Senate. Getting on the anti-pork bandwagon is sort of a freebie that makes you look good with only a small risk of actually having to follow through.”

Read more about PorkBusters.

Qualifications? We don’t need no stinkin’ qualifications: In the wake of FEMA’s sclerotic response to Hurricane Katrina, some legislators and immigration aficionados are taking a hard line against Julie Myers, the administration pick to run the Department of Homeland Security’s immigration agency. Critics charge the nominee lacks sufficient immigration experience and that her appointment reeks of the kind of political patronage that landed Michael Brown at the head of FEMA.

“Since the GOP base has become increasingly restless anyway about the Bush administration’s lack of focus on the southern border, one would hope that the President would at least have appointed someone who had experience and knowledge of the subject matter for him or herself, even if the topic does not interest Bush – perhaps especially if the topic does not interest him,” writes a disappointed Ed Morrissey at reliably right Captain’s Quarters. “Apparently not.”

“Her nomination is a joke. A bad joke,” remarks conservative columnist Michelle Malkin, a longtime advocate of strict border control. “This nomination is a monumental political and policy blunder in the wake of the Michael Brown/FEMA fiasco. … Everything was supposed to change after 9/11. No more business as usual, blah blah blah. But when it comes to immigration enforcement and border security, Bush keeps installing clueless cronies.” Liberal Phoenix David Benjamin thinks the in-house criticism signals a significant shift within the GOP. “Usually the senate gives the president who he wants, but not anymore. The president seems to have lost that confidence and privilege. It’s just too bad we had to lose New Orleans to find that out.”

Read more about Julie Myers.