Confirm nominee on his qualifications

What qualifications should John Roberts have to be confirmed for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court?

He should have experience and skill, which he has. He should be sharp with his legal reasoning, which he appears to be.

From there, it's only guesswork as to how he might rule on any future issue to come before the court. And for that reason all the hue and cry from both sides of the political spectrum says more about them than it does about the judge.

We may find it insightful and instructive to know how a court nominee thinks about the issue of abortion. But if you can predict what a justice might conclude on, say, the issue of property rights from his opinion on abortion, then you're a better mind-reader than us.

What the far ends of both the left and right seem to be clamoring for is a judge who will agree with them on every issue - or at least the big issues. But we think most people want judges - especially on the Supreme Court - who remain open-minded to the consequences their decisions can have and consider all the ramifications, on all Americans.

There is also the current fad of bemoaning "activist" judges - as if the people sitting on the benches in this country's courtrooms haven't always been required to make difficult decisions shaping the future of a community, a state and nation. What they're really saying is they want a judge who will be "active" only on their side of the issue.

We hope, in our own naive way, that the hearings before the Senate on Roberts' confirmation will focus on his legal skill, his willingness to consider first and foremost the best interests of the country as a whole and his ability to make up his mind after he has heard the facts and arguments.

Roberts, by the way, wrote the decision in the U.S. Court of Appeals on the infamous case of a 12-year-old girl arrested in a Washington subway for eating a french fry. He came down in favor of police. If you can tell from that how he'll rule on a death-penalty case, well ...


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