Back in August 2005, I wrote a column warning about John Roberts' nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court on the grounds that his penchant for being nice likely hid a sly conservative nature. "As any gal will tell you," I wrote, "it's the nice ones who break your heart."
That column led me to being denounced nationally by the great bloviator himself, Rush Limbaugh. That was one of my proudest moments. I was a hero to my son and my friends, even some of the conservative ones.
Ever since those heady days, I have tried to bring back the excitement by goading the large sack of sandwiches into another anti-Reg outburst on air. Unfortunately, he is cottoned on to the fact that I was highly amused by the incident, and, not wishing to amuse me further, he has not risen to the bait.
Of course, it turned out that I was right, which is a bit unusual and lays more claim to being news than Rush being wrong - after all, he's always wrong.
As the nation discusses President Obama's choice for the court, Judge Sonia Sotomayor, she of the reputed empathy which drives conservatives crazy, it is worth looking back at the Roberts' nomination as we hear conservatives say once more that judges should just follow the Constitution.
As a timely article by Jeffrey Toobin in the May 25 New Yorker magazine makes clear (The Annals of Law: "No More Mr. Nice Guy"), Chief Justice Roberts has his own reading of the Constitution - and it's hardly impartial. He is, in Toobin's view, not a humble moderate but a "doctrinaire conservative."
"In every major case since he became the nation's seventeenth Chief Justice, Roberts has sided with the prosecution over the defendant, the state over the condemned, the executive branch over the legislative, and the corporate defendant over the individual plaintiff."
Did the Constitution make him do it? Of course not. It's just as I predicted: It's the nice ones who break your heart.