What a Difference a President Makes


As could be expected, there's an enormous amount of good material over at the Volokh Conspiracy regarding Judge Sonia Sotomayor and all of those attendant "causes for concern" being raised by her libertarian and conservative critics (Make sure to read Damon Root on this very subject and, via Volokh's Jonathan Adler, this WSJ column from George Mason law professor Neomi Rao). And while not nearly as important as all those posts scrutinizing Sotomayor's record, this catch from Orin Kerr, comparing Slate SCOTUS reporter Dahlia Lithwick's take on the confirmation hearings of Sotomayor and Roberts, is particularly entertaining:

Dahlia Lithwick, The Rational Hysterics, today:

Confirmation hearings are inevitably an invitation to behave badly. Something about the bright lights of the Senate judiciary committee brings out the worst in people. Legal thinkers who are otherwise reasonable and intelligent somehow become great big puddles of snarling, hateful id. I think Democrats made a mistake when they accused Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito of being misogynists and racists at their confirmation hearings. And Republicans are poised to make the same mistake when they attack Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor. . . .

Dahlia Lithwick, John Roberts' Woman Problem, August 19, 2005:

Score one for Bruce Reed. He picked up on what I completely missed this week: that the most telling aspect of Supreme Court nominee John Roberts' adolescence was not his staunch refusal to get high in the woods, but his contempt for all things female. . . .

Yesterday's info dump from the National Archives, raining down more than 38,000 pages of memos from Roberts' service as a legal adviser in the Reagan White House from 1982-86, suggests that Reed has the better of it. . . . What's truly is shocking is his dismissive tone, which seemed to surprise even ultraconservative Phyllis Schlafly, who described it yesterday as "smart alecky." Gender disparities are invariably "perceived" or "purported," in Roberts' eyes. Every effort to solve them is laughable. At a moment when serious inequities in women's wages, employment, and opportunities existed in this country, Roberts seemed to dismiss every attempt to remedy them as a knock-knock joke. . . . .

Does all this add up to John Roberts, woman-hater?

Elliot Mincberg, senior vice president of People for the American Way, told the Chicago Tribune today, "You do see a real clear lack of regard for-and even it could be argued, hostility toward-laws and theories and arguments that would promote equality for women in important ways." And Kim Gandy, president of NOW, fumed in the same paper: "I don't see Roberts' positions as conservative. … I know a lot of conservatives who expect women to be paid fairly, who think women should become lawyers if they want to be lawyers. That is not a conservative position, that is a Neanderthal position. It's unfair to conservatives to call the positions he takes conservative."