On Tuesday evening, President Bush nominated Judge John G. Roberts Jr. to the Supreme Court of the United States. "He will strictly apply the Constitution and laws, not legislate from the bench," Bush stated of Roberts. Conservatives immediately leapt on the Roberts bandwagon, echoing Bush's sentiments. Talk radio commentator Hugh Hewitt labeled Roberts "a home run." The Heritage Foundation's legal experts cited Roberts' "proven fidelity to the Constitution and the rule of law" in backing his nomination. Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard called Roberts "a quality pick."
Perhaps Roberts is a safe pick. He's politically conservative and undoubtedly brilliant. He will sail through the Senate without much hassle. But it is shocking to watch many constitutional originalists and textualists abandon their philosophies in favor of cheap politics.
Roberts is not an originalist. There is nothing in his very short jurisprudential record to indicate that his judicial philosophy involves strict fidelity to the original meaning of the Constitution. He is not Antonin Scalia, nor is he Clarence Thomas. At best, he is William Rehnquist, for whom he once clerked. While Rehnquist has been a steady political conservative on the bench, the bench should not be about political persuasion: It should be about upholding the explicit words of our Founding Fathers. There is nothing to indicate that Roberts prioritizes the words of the Constitution above other, more immediate political concerns.