The Dread Jurist Roberts

One of my all-time favorite movies is a lighthearted fantasy called The Princess Bride, directed by the talented, hard-left activist Rob Reiner (but I won’t hold that against it). Filled with clever anachronisms and droll wordplay, the tagline for this 1987 comedy perfectly captures its quirky spirit: “Scaling the Cliffs of Insanity, battling Rodents of Unusual Size, facing torture in the Pit of Despair. True love has never been a snap.”

A recurring figure in The Princess Bride is “the dread pirate Roberts,” whom everyone fears. Roberts trolls the high seas looking for booty and is known to kill all his captives. Only thing is, unbeknownst to the film’s characters, the “real” Roberts has retired.

Every time I hear a Democratic Doberman such as Dick (“Gitmo”) Durbin question whether John Roberts is outside America’s “mainstream,” I wonder whether the liberals have fallen off the Cliffs of Insanity. They are trying to paint this highly qualified nominee as the “dread jurist Roberts.”

Actually, Roberts has a resume to die for: He clerked for Chief Justice William Rehnquist, graduated from Harvard Law, and argued dozens of cases before the Supreme Court. Approved only two years ago to the D.C. circuit court, what’s not to like now?

But consider the hyperactive imaginations of backers of the Supreme Court’s heavy-handed, ill-conceived Roe v. Wade decision in 1973:

The Human Rights Campaign (a homosexual-rights group) says, “With the Roberts nomination, the right to privacy and the future of a fair-minded court are in grave danger.” The far-left screams, “[T]he President has turned to a right wing corporate lawyer and ideologue for the nation’s highest court. [H]e is associated with some of the most fringe and extreme views of the Republican Party.”

The National Abortion Federation defines extreme for the rest of us. “Judge Roberts has argued for the reversal of Roe and stated that there was ‘no support in text, structure, or history of the Constitution’ for the reasoning behind Roe.”

The HRC chimes in, “Reversing Roe could undermine fundamental rights to privacy and liberty that are the legal underpinning for the freedom of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans. Judge Roberts has advocated for prayer in public schools and for weakening the wall between church and state.”

Let me see if I have this straight. Dick Durbin,, and the Human Rights Campaign are in America’s “mainstream,” and the “dread jurist Roberts” is trolling the constitutional waters for ill-gotten booty. Right.

Yes, even some Democrats acknowledge that Roberts has an excellent judicial temperament and a first-rate legal mind. But they don’t like his reputation for being a “strict constructionist” or an “originalist” in judicial philosophy (a reputation that will be put to the test quickly). Thus, they plan to grill him on his approach. Some liberals may even believe that Roberts’s Catholic beliefs (and those of his wife, a leader in the Feminists for Life organization) are “fair game” for the confirmation circus.

That’s funny. I don’t recall Democrats (or Republicans, for that matter) quizzing Stephen Breyer or Ruth Bader Ginsburg, President Clinton’s appointees, about their personal views on issues that might come before the high court.

The Democrats may indeed try to do it this time, though. But I think at the end of the day, their attacks against “the dread jurist Roberts” won’t stick, and they’ll be in the Pit of Despair, where they belong.

About Stan Guthrie

Stan Guthrie is an editor at large for Christianity Today magazine and for the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview. His latest book is God's Story in 66 Verses. He also is author of All that Jesus Asks: How His Questions Can Teach and Transform Us, Missions in the Third Millennium: 21 Key Trends for the 21st Century, and A Concise Guide to Bible Prophecy. He is co-author of The Sacrament of Evangelism. Besides authoring, writing, and editing books, Stan is a literary agent, bringing together good authors, good books, and good publishers. Stan writes the monthly Priorities colum for He has appeared on National Public Radio's €œTell Me More,€ WGN's Milt Rosenberg program, and many Christian shows, including The Eric Metaxas Show and Moody Radio'€™s €œNew Day Florida.€ A licensed minister and an inspirational speaker, he served as moderator for the Christian Book Expo panel discussion, Does the God of Christianity Exist, and What Difference Does It Make?
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