In the first few days of John G. Roberts, Jr.’s  hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, most Senators have focused their questions on his views of privacy, precedent and free speech. So far, only Sen. Russell Feingold has asked Roberts about national security and civil liberties, a critical area of jurisprudence in this post 9/11 age. 

As Raj Purohit writes today in, a Chief Justice Roberts would guide the court’s decisions on cases that test the Bush Administration’s determination to emphasize the prevention of terrorism over both the rights of Americans and the rule of law.  If the recent past is any guide, the Supreme Court could soon rule on the White House’s efforts to wordsmith its definition of torture; the rendition of suspected terrorists to countries that openly employ torture; the indefinite detention of American citizens without trial; the Pentagon’s Guantanamo tribunals, the scope of US obligations under treaties like Geneva, and various Constitutionally shaky provisions of the Patriot Act. And Roberts’ record suggests he’ll be strongly inclined to vote in favor of  ever-expanding executive branch powers.

Unfortunately, the Democrats appear completely unable to stop or even slow Roberts, who seems to have obtained reasonable, nice-guy status by virtue of his John Edwards-like smile and his measured manner.  Consequently, wrote The Nation‘s David Corn in his Capital Games blog, they can only have one political objective: to boost the number of “no” votes to Bush’s nominee for Supreme Court Chief Justice. This would allow the Democrats to claim their party is the one that cares about privacy rights and could help lay the groundwork for opposition to Bush’s next Supreme Court pick, in the likely instance of an extremist nominee.  

This is where you can still help. If our legislators can be convinced that the political price of supporting Roberts is at least as great as that of opposing him, then we may yet see some backbone. Click here to send a letter to your elected reps imploring them to oppose Roberts’ nomination. And find resources at the Alliance for Justice’s Supreme Court Watch site detailing exactly why he’s the wrong choice for Chief Justice. (The site has a running podCast of the senate hearings, too.) People for the American Way has also put out an excellent fact-sheet on Roberts’s record as well as a campus activism toolkit.


Hurricane Katrina Relief

Click here to see a list of progressive, grassroots organizations, collected by Adam Howard, that we think are worthy recipients of hurricane relief donations. These groups are already on the ground and are dedicated to delivering aid to those who need it most.

The Moving Ideas Network has also just published a Hurricane Katrina progressive policy and action guide which is well worth checking out. It features a collection of articles and media coverage on the disaster as well as a call to support an independent Katrina Commission that would fully assess why it took so long for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to respond and how we can improve preparedness for future natural disasters.


Good for Shaq! 

Associated Press

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. — Shaquille O’Neal provided an assist to police over the weekend, trailing a man who allegedly assaulted a gay couple before alerting an arresting officer.

The 7-foot-1 Miami Heat center, who is in the process of becoming a Miami Beach reserve officer, was driving on South Beach around 3 a.m. Sunday. He saw a passenger in a car yell anti-gay slurs at the couple, who were walking, said Bobby Hernandez, a spokesman for the Miami Beach Police Department.

The man then got out of the car and threw a bottle, hitting one of the pedestrians, who was not seriously hurt. The man got back in the car, which sped off. O’Neal followed, flagging down an officer who made an arrest.