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The Example of the Chief Justice

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When Chief Justice John Roberts was first nominated to the D.C. Circuit in 1992, he was wrongly stalled by Democrats then in the majority in the Senate, and denied his seat on the bench.

I had occasion to talk with Roberts a couple of times over the next few years, and he never complained in those conversations –or anywhere in print– about the injustice done him in 1992.

When he was introduced as one of George W. Bush’s first nominees in May of 2001, it was fair to assume that he’d be quickly confirmed, given his credentials, including those he had amassed in the intervening eight years. When Senator Jeffords made his big jump, Roberts was again sent to nominee limbo by Patrick Leahy. Again he did not complain.

Roberts was finally confirmed to the job he had first been nominated for in 1992, in May of 2003, after George W. Bush made Senate obstruction of his judicial nominees a central issue in the campaign of 2002 and a GOP majority was returned to control the Senate.

Two-and-a-half years later he is the Chief Justice of the United States, enjoying the esteem that his flawless performance before the Senate Judiciary Committee earned him. Not once throughout the hearings or after has the public heard any complaint from Roberts about his 13 year trip from nominee to Chief.

Roberts is patient and disciplined as well as brilliant, and as a result is now in a position to influence events for decades because of that patience and discipline. Whatever frustrations he may have felt through the past many years, he kept them to himself, and kept his eye on the ball.

From the comments thread over at “MOOSEMUSS and Miers” is this:

For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the supreme excellence. – Sun Tzu


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