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On the August 25 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh alleged that "people on the left, including many people in the media" have compared Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr. to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. But many conservatives have compared Roberts to Scalia as well, touting alleged similarities between the two as a reason to confirm Roberts.
Limbaugh asked, "Have you noticed all of the recent reporting on Roberts has references to Justice Scalia? That he is in the Scalia mold." Limbaugh stated, "There are two reasons why they [the media] are doing this. Number 1: If Roberts makes it through, they are settin' down a marker. 'OK. This guy, but nobody more conservative and more out of the mainstream than this guy. No more Scalias' ... And another reason they're doing it -- a reason they're setting up a marker, setting it out -- is to lay the groundwork for opposing Scalia, should Bush name him to be chief justice down the road."
In fact, Media Matters for America has documented several examples of conservatives comparing Roberts to Scalia, framing the purported similarity positively:
- Sean Hannity, on the July 20 broadcast of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes: "
The president promised that he would pick somebody like Antonin Scalia, like Judge [Clarence] Thomas, an originalist philosophy, a constitutional scholar. Clearly, this man is."
- Former Attorney General Edwin Meese III, in a July 20 article (subscription required) in the Toronto Star:
"President Bush promised the American people that he would nominate Supreme Court justices who would not legislate from the bench and would be in the mould of Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia," said Edwin Meese III, chairperson of the [Heritage] foundation's centre for legal and judicial studies. "He has fulfilled that promise ... with the selection of a judge of unquestionable integrity and proven fidelity to the constitution and the rule of law."
- Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, in a July 20 USA Today article:
"The president promised us a judge along the lines of (Antonin) Scalia and (Clarence) Thomas, and he kept his promise," Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council, said after the announcement. With Roberts, he said, "there will be a philosophical shift in the court back to where it operates within its proper boundaries and respects the proper role of legislatures."
- Brad Berenson, former associate White House counsel under President George W. Bush, in a July 19 interview on ABC's Nightline:
BERENSON: There isn't any way of knowing [what kind of Justice Roberts would be] for sure. But conservatives have often remarked that when justices change or "grow" in office, they often tend to do so in a leftward direction. And that the single best circumstantial guarantee or immunization against that kind of effect, seems to be significant service in the executive branch in Washington, for whatever reason. That's true of Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, of Justice Scalia and Justice Thomas, the three conservatives. All had served in Republican administrations in senior positions. And in that sense, John Roberts fits in that mold of a justice whose views are well-formed, who's been tempered by the fire of political combat in Washington. And who is less likely than other kinds of nominees may have been to drift over time.
- Tom Fitton, president of the conservative Judicial Watch, in a July 19 interview on PBS' The Charlie Rose Show:
ROSE: Let me ask you this question. Tom, there was much talk about the president needing to satisfy a conservative constituency that helped get him elected, that he made certain promises. He famously said he would appoint judges like Scalia. Do you believe that he has fulfilled his promise by the nomination of John Roberts?
FITTON: I'm reasonably confident. I originally said that, you know, President Bush can't nominate a trust-me candidate, where we'd have to say, he'd have to say, "Trust me, he's a conservative." I think Mr. Roberts's -- or Judge Roberts's -- record is clear enough to indicate that he's a conservative in the mode of Scalia and Thomas.
- Northwestern University law professor and Federalist Society co-founder Stephen Calabresi, in a July 21 article in Focus on the Family's Citizen Link website:
"He's a brilliant legal mind, and his qualifications are impeccable," Calabresi said. "I would say that Roberts is every bit as good as (Justice Antonin) Scalia or Rehnquist, for whom he clerked."
Additionally, on the July 24 broadcast of the nationally syndicated television show Eye on Washington, conservative radio host Michael Graham suggested Roberts was ideologically not similar enough to Scalia:
DEREK McGINTY (host): Michael Graham, you were very critical of Sandra Day O'Connor, because you did not see in her an overriding judicial philosophy. Well this man says, "I don't have an overriding judicial philosophy, I go case by case, I look at the law and then I decide." We wouldn't want that, would we?
GRAHAM: I hope he's not being honest. Frankly, he's a lawyer, so he's trained in saying things in careful ways. I have to say my squish radar went up as soon as John Roberts came out, and a lot of my listeners did, too. This guy is clearly not an Antonin Scalia, and we're spoiled. I mean, that's what we really, really want. He seems, though, pretty solidly conservative.
Moreover, President Bush has used very similar language to describe Roberts and Scalia. In a November 21, 1999, appearance on NBC's Meet the Press, when host Tim Russert asked then-presidential candidate Bush to cite a justice he respected, Bush replied, "Anthony [sic] Scalia is one." Bush added, "There's a lot of reasons why I like Judge Scalia ... The most primary issue -- the most primary issue is will they strictly interpret the Constitution of the United States?" When President Bush appointed Roberts to the Supreme Court July 19, he praised Roberts using similar terms: "He will strictly apply the Constitution and laws, not legislate from the bench."
From the August 25 broadcast of The Rush Limbaugh Show:
LIMBAUGH: If you're just joining us, we really -- this, this guy from Livermore really had a good point, and I had to go through this pretty quickly because we were running out of time in the previous hour. But his point was this, and this is all about the arrogance and the superiorist attitude of the people on the left, including many people in the media.
And his point was, you know, 90 percent of the Washington press corps admits to being liberal, but they then say that has no effect on how they do their jobs. "Why we are objective journalists. It has no impact on the way we do our jobs." Of course we know that's bogus, but that's what they say.
Yet here comes Judge Roberts, who is a conservative. We know more about John Roberts than we know about every journalist in this country combined. We know more about John Roberts and his personal life. We know more about his professional life than we will ever know about any journalist.
And yet the same journalists who claim to be objective then stand up and say or question Roberts's ability to be lawful and abide by the law. And I'm going to tell you something else to be on the lookout for. Mr. Snerdley is right to have pointed this out. I myself have noticed this. You may have too.
Have you noticed all of the recent reporting on Roberts has references to Justice Scalia? That he is in the Scalia mold? That he is a blood brother to Scalia? That he and Scalia are cut from the same cloth? You've heard of these references. You say, "Why are they doing this? Scalia's already on the court."
There are two reasons why they are doing this. Number 1: If Roberts makes it through, they are settin' down a marker. "OK. This guy, but nobody more conservative and more out of the mainstream than this guy. No more Scalias. We're not going to put up with any more Scalias. We're not going to put up with common sense and intelligence on this court. We want liberalism on this court, and we're not going to tolerate any Scalias."
And another reason they're doing it -- a reason they're setting up a marker, setting it out -- is to lay the groundwork for opposing Scalia should Bush name him to be chief justice down the road. Make no mistake about this, folks. These people, they may appear disorganized when they get out these anti-war movements. They may appear disorganized and other things, but on this, this is where they circle the wagons and do the best that they can.