Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Nelson "Leaning" to Confirm Roberts

by Kyle Michaelis
No surprise here. None at all. And I don't mean that in a bad way. The AP reports:
U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson now leans toward voting for President Bush's Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr.

The Nebraska Democrat was noncommittal a week ago, when Roberts' nomination to replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor was announced by the White House.

"I am looking forward to being constructive as the Senate considers and deliberates on the qualifications of Judge Roberts," Nelson said on July 19.

On Tuesday, during a telephone news conference, Nelson at one point said, "I'm not undecided," then soon said, "I'm leaning his way."

"Based on everything I've seen," Nelson said, "I see no reason to oppose him."

But, he said, he reserves final judgment until after his meeting with Roberts on Thursday and after the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings.

Thank you Senator Nelson for at least doing your job, even when it might be easier in Nebraska to follow in your Republican colleagues' footsteps offering shallow pledges of unqualified support before the facts are even known.

Roberts deserves a fair hearing, and I've seen no indication from any quarter that he won't receive exactly that. Still Republicans persist nation-wide with war cries and high pressure tactics that can only be honestly intended to prevent an impartial accounting of John Roberts the man and jurist. What are they afraid of? Today, the Bush Administration revealed it wouldn't even make Roberts' tax returns from the last three years available to Congress, breaking with decades of entirely reasonable expectations of disclosure. If Roberts has nothing to hide, they sure are going out of their way to see that it stays that way.

Meanwhile, high-profile Republicans are making spectacles locally every chance they can get to swoon over Roberts and butter-up to their party superiors. Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning boasted at a press conference last week in the state capitol, "This nomination ought to be a slam-dunk."

At a similar such sham at the Iowa state house coordinated around the same talking points on the same day, Des Moines lawyer and Republican National Committee member Steve Roberts said, "It's hard to conceive of a better nomination."

Glad to see the art of being a Yes-man is alive and well. Does anyone really believe either of these men, especially boy wonder Bruning, really knows the first thing about Roberts? They know President Bush picked him, and that's all it took to win their unthinking, unwavering support. And they want Ben Nelson to do the exact same thing, neglecting his constitutional duty as a Senator just as they have neglected their personal responsbilities to know what the hell they're speaking about before opening their mouths.

Luckily, Chairman of the Nebraska Democratic Party Steve Achelpohl rose up to challenge this absurd and insulting behavior, writing in the Public Pulse of Monday's Omaha World-Herald:
Republican leadership in Nebraska is more interested in partisan press conferences than in educating themselves about Sen. Ben Nelson's position on President Bush's nomination of John G. Roberts Jr. to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Sen. Nelson has made it clear that he sees no "extraordinary circumstance" at this point that would prevent him from supporting Roberts.

Despite Nelson's cooperative attitude, Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning, Nebraska Secretary of State John Gale and other Republican lawyers met in the State Capitol rotunda last week to pressure Sen. Nelson to support the president's pick.

At the same time, Sen. Chuck Hagel left himself some room to wiggle out of his commitment if "a major, major thunderbolt from left field" is uncovered. Maybe Gale, Bruning and other Republican leaders should be calling on Hagel to fully support the president's nominee.

Their partisan efforts are wasted in trying to influence Nelson, who has proved time and again that he rises above partisan politics to do what is right for America.

Even the president said as much last February.

Steve Achelpohl, Omaha

Ben Nelson has promised to wait until after Senate hearings before making a final decision on his vote. He is willing to support the President's nominee. He just wants the information to enable him to offer advice and consent in a qualified constitutional capacity. What is it exactly that the Republican Party has against an elected representative, a servant of the people such as Nelson, doing his job?


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