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Coulter splits
on court pick

Judge John Roberts

While conservatives almost universally have praised President Bush’s nomination of appeals Judge John Roberts to the U.S. Supreme Court, columnist Ann Coulter calls the pick a “stealth” choice that could turn out to be a disappointment in the vein of the elder Bush’s selection of Justice David Souter.

“We don’t know much about John Roberts,” Coulter writes in a column today. “Stealth nominees have never turned out to be a pleasant surprise for conservatives. Never. Not ever.”

Coulter, herself a constitutional attorney, says that the fact Roberts wrote a brief arguing for the repeal of Roe v. Wade when he worked for Republican administrations means nothing.

“He was arguing on behalf of his client, the United States of America,” Coulter says.

Roberts has disassociated himself from those cases,” she points out, dropping a footnote to a 1994 law review article that said: “In the interest of full disclosure, the author would like to point out that as Deputy Solicitor General for a portion of the 1992-93 Term, he was involved in many of the cases discussed below. In the interest of even fuller disclosure, he would also like to point out that his views as a commentator on those cases do not necessarily reflect his views as an advocate for his former client, the United States.”

Coulter says “it makes no difference that conservatives in the White House are assuring us Roberts can be trusted.”

“We got the exact same assurances from officials working for the last president Bush about David Hackett Souter,” she says. “I believe their exact words were, ‘Read our lips; Souter’s a reliable conservative.'”

Announcing his decision at the White House last night, Bush said Roberts fit the qualifications for a Supreme Court nominee, “a person of superb credentials and the highest integrity; a person who will faithfully apply the Constitution and keep our founding promise of equal justice under law.”

The president said that before Roberts joined the D.C. Court of Appeals, he “was known as one of the most distinguished and talented attorneys in America.”

“John Roberts has devoted his entire professional life to the cause of justice and is widely admired for his intellect, his sound judgment, and personal decency,” Bush said.

A host of leaders from conservative interest groups immediately echoed the president:

Roberts, 50, was appointed to the D.C. Circuit in 2003 by Bush. He also was nominated by the president’s father but never received a Senate vote.

Before his appointment, he practiced at Hogan & Hartson from 1986 to 1989 and 1993-2003.

He served as principal deputy solicitor general in the first Bush administration.

During the Reagan administration, he served as a special assistant to the attorney general from 1981 to 1982 and as associate counsel to the president from 1982 to 1986.

Roberts attended Harvard College and Harvard Law School and clerked for Judge Henry Friendly on the 2nd Circuit and for Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

Bush said yesterday his “desire is to get this process moving so that someone will be confirmed – whoever he or she is – will be confirmed by October” when the court reconvenes.

With interest groups from both left and right poised for action, speculation in Washington yesterday centered on Judge Edith Clement of the U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

According to The Hill newspaper, White House officials assured select conservative leaders that they would not nominate Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

The paper said the message filtered out to conservative activists that Gonzales, whom many activists believe would be too liberal on abortion and racial preference issues, was no longer a threat to their cause.

Other names under consideration were Edith Jones, also a member of the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; Maura Corrigan of the Michigan Supreme Court; Cecilia M. Altonaga, a U.S. District Court judge for the Southern District of Florida; a Harvard Law School Professor Mary Ann Glendon; Karen Williams of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va.

Two recently confirmed judges also were mentioned — Janice Rogers Brown of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and Priscilla Owen of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

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