What’s at stake for Democrats with the Roberts’ nomination? Apparently quite a few things, including “the clause of the Constitution that authorizes the government to regulate interstate commerce. ” That clause is on Ted Kennedy’s list of questions…
Earlier, at a meeting with reporters, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, indicated that he intended to question Judge Roberts closely not only about “privacy rights,” but also about his views on the clause of the Constitution that authorizes the government to regulate interstate commerce.
Since the New Deal, that clause has provided the basis for a host of federal regulations and social programs including welfare, the minimum-wage laws, civil-rights laws and environmental rules. Some conservative judges and scholars have argued that the clause should be more narrowly interpreted, restricting the authority of the Congress and giving states more latitude.
In a sign that he shared that view, Judge Roberts, who sits on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, argued in one dissenting opinion that the federal government did not have the power to block a California real estate development because it endangered the habitat of a certain toad.
Seizing on that opinion, Mr. Kennedy warned of “an enormous danger” if the Supreme Court turned away from the broad New Deal interpretation of the Commerce Clause. “Can you imagine the sort of nation we would be if each state had to pass each civil rights law separately?” he asked. “We would be a lesser nation.”
In an earlier piece I wrote that Senator Kennedy has the been on the Judiciary Committee for 40 years. He has participated in some 20 Supreme Court nominations. That gives some advantage to Kennedy in experience on this issue, his long tenure on the committee far outweighs Senator Arlen Specter’s (Is there a Specter/Roberts connection in the documents the White House will not release?) participation “in nine Supreme Court nominations during his 25 years on the committee.”
I expect we will hear a lot more from Kennedy in the weeks to come. The day that Sandra Day O’Connor resigned, he held a conference call with the MSM and one with Bloggers from the left wing as well. He’s not ready to roll over on this nomination and today John Kerry went to bat for one of the sticky issues that has got Democrats riled up…
Democrats, including both Senators Kennedy and Durbin, continued to warn that they might seek to block Judge Roberts if he was not forthcoming about his legal thinking or if the White House declined to provide documents from his past legal work for Republican administrations.