Most Senate Democrats Will Vote for Roberts
Barring some startling new revelation, the betting is that a majority of the Democrats in the U.S. Senate will vote to confirm John Roberts as Chief Justice of the United States.
25 Dems could vote for Roberts (The Hill)
Members of the Senate DemocratsÃ¢€™ K Street inner circle are predicting that as many as 25 Democrats will vote to confirm John Roberts as chief justice of the United States. Several attendees of the Monday Group, as Senate Minority Leader Harry ReidÃ¢€™s (D-Nev.) biweekly lobbyist meetings are known, said the Democrats could suffer politically if their Roberts strategy misfires. Left-wing ideological groups are pressuring Democratic lawmakers to expose RobertsÃ¢€™s conservative record without workable grounds for a fight, Monday Group lobbyists said.
Ã¢€œItÃ¢€™s not a good thing for Democrats to be dragged into a visible, high-profile battle on him for weeks when Congress ought to be dealing with issues the public really cares about,Ã¢€ one key Democratic lobbyist said. Ã¢€œThatÃ¢€™s the biggest danger for Democrats, if they get sucked into something like that because of the ideological left.Ã¢€
Though some Democrats already have called for Congress to focus on aiding the blighted Gulf Coast as the new session begins, planning for the Roberts hearings likely will dominate the Monday GroupÃ¢€™s next meeting, on Sept. 12. Informal discussions among some lobbyists and Democratic aides during the recess were said to yield little in the way of cohesive counsel. Ã¢€œThere is no real coordinated effort to enlist K Street in getting involved,Ã¢€ said another well-connected Democrat, one of many who hailed Roberts as an unassailably shrewd selection. Ã¢€œThereÃ¢€™s no sense in creating a big dustup now downtown, when what are you going to fight about?Ã¢€
Democratic lobbyistsÃ¢€™ greatest concern about Roberts is not pinning down his positions on federal preemption or civil rights, despite the recent Monday Group guest appearance of Wade Henderson, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. Many K Street Democrats instead questioned what they characterized as poorly coordinated messaging from liberal groups that has unduly influenced some lawmakers.
Ã¢€œThe other dirty little secret the Democrats have to deal with is Ã¢€¦ there may be some in party who see it as, Ã¢€˜It would be worthwhile to drag it out a little bit so we can raise some money off the dealÃ¢€™Ã¢€ from left-wing special interests, a Monday Group member said. Ã¢€œThatÃ¢€™s shortsighted, and politically dangerous too.Ã¢€
In particular, Democratic lobbyists singled out the NARAL Pro-Choice Alliance decision to endorse Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.), who is certain to face a tough reelection fight next year, in a potential bid to sway him on Roberts. If Chafee spurns the pro-abortion-rights group by voting to confirm, his Democratic challenger could be weakened, and Monday Group lobbyists said a Republican voting against Roberts would be highly unlikely.
Ã¢€œIÃ¢€™d advise my clients to stay out of this one,Ã¢€ said another lobbyist with ties to Democratic leadership. Ã¢€œWhy would they use up political capital on something they canÃ¢€™t possibly win on or benefit from? Ã¢€¦ I donÃ¢€™t see a good opening for us.Ã¢€
While such craven political calculations may be unseemly in something as serious as the decision as to who should lead the Supreme Court, this is an unfortunate–and bipartisan–reality. The Democrats are almost certainly making the right move here. Roberts will be confirmed and is seen by the public as a mainstream, if conservative, choice. Vitriolic opposition to such a man would only make Democrats seem extremist.