Some noise machine has lately been promoting the notion that Supreme Court nominee John Roberts in not *that* conservative. I'm not sure what to think of that story, but the nominee has responded to several inquiries by saying that he has no memory of being a member of the secretive conservative legal "Federalist Society." Charles Lane reports in yesterday's Washington Post that John Robert's name appears in the society's 1997-98 leadership directory. This would be an odd type of thing to "forget."
Roberts has burnished his legal image carefully. When news organizations have reported his membership in the society, he or others speaking on his behalf have sought corrections. Last week, the White House told news organizations that had reported his membership in the group that he had no memory of belonging. The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today and the Associated Press printed corrections.The oddity is that his widely reported membership could hardly have hurt his nomination, but if he has lied about that membership, the case becomes much harder.
In conservative circles, membership in or association with the society has become a badge of ideological and political reliability. Roberts's membership was routinely reported by news organizations in the context of his work in two GOP administrations and legal assistance to the party during the contested 2000 presidential election in Florida.What's up with this?