July 25, 2005

"All aboard!" The Roberts smear train is loading on track 22

As liberals across the nation scrabbled for an attacking handhold against Supreme Court nominee John Roberts, they challenged him on his possible membership in the Federalist Society, a Washington-based group of conservative lawyers formed in the early 80s to combat percieved liberal legislation from the bench. According to the AP, Roberts' name was on a 1997 list of members.

Supreme Court nominee John Roberts declined Monday to say why he was listed in a leadership directory of the Federalist Society and the White House said he has no recollection of belonging to the conservative group.

The question of Roberts' membership in the society — an influential organization of conservative lawyers and judges formed in the early 1980s to combat what its members said was growing liberalism on the bench — emerged as a vexing issue at the start of another week of meetings for President Bush's nominee on Capitol Hill.

Democratic Senators are already making noises about demanding that the White House release all of Roberts' writings. The White House, so far, has indicated that no such release is forthcoming.
The Senate Judiciary Committee has yet to ask for such material for its hearings. But some Democrats, including Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, have urged the White House to release "in their entirety" any documents written by Roberts.

Citing privacy and precedent, Fred D. Thompson, the former Tennessee senator guiding Roberts through the process on behalf of the White House, said Sunday the Bush administration does not intend to release everything.

Material that would come under attorney-client privilege would be withheld, Thompson said, calling it a principle followed by previous presidents of both political parties.

"We hope we don't get into a situation where documents are asked for that folks know will not be forthcoming and we get all hung up on that," Thompson told NBC's "Meet the Press."

Though no one on the Democratic side of the Senate has formally indicated an intent to filibuster Roberts' nomination, the continued carping from the usual suspects hints at a possible power-play by some liberals as the hearings begin in earnest.

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