Conveniently juxtaposed

Chi Trib’s “Civil rights groups go slow: Leaders say they are withholding judgment as they study Roberts” on p. 13, is basically puffery for those groups; there nothing in it that could not serve as a press release.  And it’s cheek by jowl on the page with “MEMOS RELEASED: On paper, praise for the right” about a 1981 (! is this reaching or isn’t it?) memo in which Roberts recommended conservatives for Justice Dept. jobs BECAUSE OF THEIR CONSERVATISM!  One can hear the “Gotcha!” all the way to Oak Park.

The civil-rights-groups story is essentially damage control for the anti-Roberts camp in the wake of the just-recalled NARAL ad that got shot down by a watchdog group.  We’re not like those people, say civil-rightsers, and WE’RE STILL MAKING UP OUR MINDS (!).  Frank James offers as unadulterated fact their claim of a “deliberate approach” to the nomination:

It's all meant to avoid the appearance of a rush to judgment. The groups may eventually announce they're opposing Roberts.

They claim?  Did James forget that part?  Did a copy editor forget it too?  It’s how they want to be perceived, isn't it?  James doesn’t get that?  Between playing or being dumb is a Hobson’s choice which I would rather not face in my morning Trib, if you don’t mind.

James does close with good quotes from the groups in question in which they present or inadvertently disclose their strategy: no name-calling, press Roberts on how he will vote, get (lots of) documents.

"We do not intend to demonize this man, we're not going to call him names," said Alfreda Robinson, head of the judicial nominations committee of the National Bar Association, an 80-year-old black lawyers organization.  [Vs. those who say they intend to demonize him]

"But we have a view that there are some questions that he needs to answer," said Robinson, associate dean at George Washington University Law School. "For example, his view on reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act, the scope of that act and whether it should be expanded [she means whether given legislation is constitutional, doesn't she?], because ... that's one of the very important issues to civil rights organizations."  [Or does she think Roberts is nominated as one of our supreme legislators?]

The officials from civil rights groups interviewed said one of their most pressing concerns with the nomination is transparency: The Bush administration has not provided Roberts' entire record [memos, etc.] as an official in previous administrations.

"Without having all of the relevant documents released . . . it's going to be difficult for any civil rights organization ... to really have an informed position on where he stands," said Aimee Baldillo, a staff attorney with National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium.

Cough up the documents, we're dying for ammo.

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