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I predicted Aug. 8 that John Roberts would be confirmed by the U.S. Senate – getting all Republican votes and most Democrats.

I reiterated this prediction Aug. 12 with the first real evidence of opposition to Roberts caving because he is not what they most fear about Republican appointees to the court.

And now I can illustrate this unfolding trend by pointing out that the Washington Post formally endorsed confirmation of Roberts last Sunday.

To quote the Post:

John G. Roberts Jr. should be confirmed as chief justice of the United States. He is overwhelmingly well-qualified, possesses an unusually keen legal mind and practices a collegiality of the type an effective chief justice must have. He shows every sign of commitment to restraint and impartiality. Nominees of comparable quality have, after rigorous hearings, been confirmed nearly unanimously. We hope Judge Roberts will similarly be approved by a large bipartisan vote.

Well, I don’t hope for such a confirmation. I fear it. I know it is coming. It is inevitable. There is no way around it. But I hope what is unfolding in Washington will serve a higher purpose – to awaken freedom-minded and justice-loving and Constitution-revering Americans to the fact that they have been conned, once again, by President Bush.

Most of the individuals and organizations one might expect to protest Roberts’ nomination quickly fell into line and endorsed him despite overwhelming evidence he is cut out of the mold of David Souter and Anthony Kennedy.

These “conservative” groups and individuals suggest I am wrong about Roberts and doth protest too much.

Let me tell you why they are wrong – and why they should be very alarmed about the nomination of Roberts and his elevation to replace the late Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

First of all, Bush has already effectively weakened the court with this pick. There is no way anyone can make the case that Roberts is as good as Rehnquist. I suppose someone could make the case that he would be better than Sandra Day O’Connor. But does anyone reading this column really expect he will be as strong in his leadership of the court as Rehnquist? Does anyone believe he is as principled? Does anyone believe he possesses Rehnquist’s worldview?

I don’t think so.

So, let’s face facts. Bush just pushed the court further in the direction of the activists.

Further, one must consider this nomination with an eye toward the next.

There is the little matter of the O’Connor seat still on the table. If Bush is unanimously commended for his choice of Roberts by his core constituency, then he is very likely to pick another justice like him to replace O’Connor.

That’s why it is critical for more people to step forward and question this unwise selection. Bush needs to hear some noise from his right flank.

The Senate Judiciary Committee hearings are a sham. Lots of heat, very little light. The real questions are not being asked because there is no one to ask them.

Republicans are “obliged” to support the nominee of their president, and Democrats are learning Roberts is just the kind of nominee they love – a Democrat in Republican clothing.

This is a lost battle.

But for those who still love this nation and want to see sanity returned to the courts, there is another seat that needs to be filled.

Let Bush know he blew it on Roberts and that we demand better – much better – in his nomination for O’Connor’s seat.

It will take a very good selection for Bush to push the court in the right direction – someone far better than Roberts.

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