Volume 18 • Issue 18 | September 23 - 29, 2005


A court appointment more important than Roberts

 The debate on whether Democratic senators should support the confirmation of John Roberts to be the Supreme Court’s next chief justice is nearing a conclusion with next week’s scheduled vote. No knowledgeable observer believes there is a chance Roberts will be denied confirmation, so the more important question for senators is how will their vote affect the appointment to fill the court’s other vacancy?

We share the concerns women’s rights and civil rights groups have expressed about Roberts. The White House’s refusal to provide documents that may have offered insight into Roberts’ views is also a strong argument to vote no on confirmation.

On the other hand, Roberts made it clear in his Senate testimony that he is to the left of the court’s extremist judges and values court precedent more than they do. He undoubtedly has the intellect and experience to be a great justice. He appears to be less conservative than the man he would replace, Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who remained committed to taking away a women’s right to an abortion after three decades of court precedents. Roberts also appears to be a better nominee than virtually everyone else President Bush is reportedly considering for the high court.

A no vote against Roberts could be a warning shot to President Bush that the Democrats have the organizational unity and ability to block an extremist nominee for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s seat. A yes vote could make it easier politically for a Democratic senator to block any nominee more conservative than Roberts. We’re too far away from Washington’s power circles to know what the most effective strategy is, so we leave it to our two senators and the rest of their Democratic colleagues to figure that out. Justice O’Connor’s successor will have the chance to pull the court even further to the right and further whittle away abortion and other rights. The Constitution gives the Senate the absolute power to block or approve justices and senators should use it to make sure the next two justices are as moderate as possible

Tribeca 5B decision
The City Council will vote soon on the Tribeca development project across the street from P.S. 234. Councilmember Alan Gerson has delayed the vote on Site 5B in order to get developer Ed Minskoff to come up with a construction plan and schedule — particularly as regards to pile driving — that is not overly disruptive to the school. That Minskoff has not done, citing “prohibitive” costs.

The vote delay days are numbered and if Minskoff cannot come up with an acceptable plan to build his luxury apartment buildings, the Council should stand with Gerson against Minskoff and the mayor. Minskoff will lose lots of money if the project is delayed or blocked. If he doesn’t want to spend some of that money to reduce the hugely negative impact that pile driving will have on kids across the street trying to learn, then the project shouldn’t be approved.


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