Any reasonable person listening to Judge Roberts yesterday could only conclude that a judge who, if anything, disappointed despairing conservatives because of the caution with which he approaches the revisiting of past court decisions, would not be cavalier with the Constitution itself, as Mr. Oliphant thinks. Judge Roberts appeared to be so conservative an umpire, in fact, that his most animated criticism of the Dred Scott decision, which protected slavery, was that the high court went beyond the facts of the case. It is hard to imagine an umpire such as that moving the strike zone.
The problem with being so non-activist -- so appropriately unimaginative, as Roberts is -- is that nobody can claim him as a political pawn. He has few truly impassioned defenders, as a result -- few except those who hope he will prove every bit as originalist as he sounds.