E. J. Dionne Jr. - A Right Turn With a Smile
Judge John G. Roberts could turn out to be Antonin Scalia with a Washington Establishment smile. He is almost certainly a William Rehnquist for the 21st century. And he is David Souter turned on his head -- a stealth candidate whose winning personality disguises intense conservatism, not moderation.
Roberts was, in short, the shrewdest choice President Bush could have made to fill retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's Supreme Court seat. Roberts could move the court well to the right yet grin his way through the confirmation process. His advertising slogan might be: Staunchly on the Right. But With No Hard Edges.
All of which means that the next two weeks will be crucial in determining how the Roberts confirmation battle goes. The Bush administration will be desperate to frame the fight in terms of Roberts's ample qualifications, his bipartisan group of friends, his fine education and his lovely family.
Roberts's opponents need to lift the argument to the level of principle. It doesn't matter how nice or smart Roberts may be. What matters is that on a court where so many cases have been decided by 5-to-4 votes, Roberts's convictions and philosophy matter far more than his biography....