John Roberts still has most conservatives buffaloed.

They just can’t believe George W. Bush would betray them so boldly.

But he has.

Even I, the ultimate skeptic, am just beginning to fathom the extent of the shell game that has been played on conservatives – most of whom are actively working on behalf of the confirmation of a new chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court who will make Ruth Bader Ginsberg look like a moderate.

That’s right.

Up until now, I’ve been comparing Roberts to Sandra Day O’Connor, Anthony Kennedy and David Souter. I’ve got news for you. He’s worse.

That, according to his close friend Edward Lazarus. Here’s what he has to say about the next chief justice:

“Roberts is not burdened by a Bork-like record of speaking out in his own voice … Roberts presents a sharp contrast to [Robert] Bork in judicial philosophy. Roberts is already on record strongly disclaiming an allegiance to any particular theory of constitutional interpretation, such as original intent jurisprudence. Roberts says that he picks and chooses what interpretive tools to use (such as textual analysis, historical analysis, or reliance on precedent) depending on which tools seem best to fit a particular case …”

But it gets worse. Lazarus says Roberts will be very influential because of this style.

“Why could Roberts be influential?” he asks rhetorically. “Because of the very collegiality that is cited as a reason to confirm him. Justice Thomas, for instance, is isolated on the court by his extreme and often unusual views; like Bork, he too is susceptible to caricature due to a strong emphasis on Framers’ intent. So while Thomas is a reliable conservative vote, he is not an effective wooer of moderates. But Roberts could both be a reliable conservative vote, and also convince moderates such as Justice Kennedy to join his side. Similarly, while Thomas is too extreme to ever be a chief justice candidate, Roberts, in contrast, could easily become one.”

This statement, by the way, made long before Bush nominated Roberts to the job of chief justice following the death of William Rehnquist.

Again, it gets worse – much worse.

“Putting politics aside, the current court member Roberts most resembles is Stephen Breyer. Roberts is far more intellectual than Rehnquist, far more politic than Scalia, and – as noted above – far less extreme than Thomas.”

Stephen Breyer. That’s who Roberts most resembles, according to his friend.

Roberts is a Washington establishment operative who has been fooling conservatives for much of his life.

In 1981, he worked hand in glove with his good friend Kenneth Starr, another shill for the establishment, to fool President Reagan and the American people into thinking Sandra Day O’Connor was a “conservative,” Reagan Republican. He was a plotter, a co-conspirator, a devious manipulator, a spinner.

In a Feb. 16, 1982, memo he wrote to Attorney General William French Smith advising him on how to handle conservative criticism of the O’Connor choice, which had been engineered by Starr, he wrote:

A related criticism focuses on the screening and appointment of federal judges, highlighted by the O’Connor debate. The assertion is that appointees are not ideologically committed to the president’s policies, again with particular emphasis on the social agenda … Here again I do not think we should respond with a “yes, they are”; rather we should shift the debate and briefly touch on our judicial restraint themes (for which this audience should give us some credit).

It really should not matter what the personal ideology of our appointees may be, so long as they recognize that their ideology should have no role in the decisional process – i.e., so long as they believe in judicial restraint. This theme should be glossed somewhat, because of the platform, but we can make the point that much criticism of our appointees has been misdirected.

This is what conservatives got for all their hard work on behalf of George W. Bush – a betrayal. Conservatives were told they had nowhere else to go in the presidential election if they cared about the U.S. Supreme Court.

And what did they get? Not Souter. Not Kennedy. But Breyer.

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