At his confirmation hearings this week, Judge John G. Roberts Jr. will be asked to respond to questions about documents he wrote as a young government lawyer.
The questions are sure to be sharp, but at least he can take solace in the fact that his mentor, and the man whom he seeks to replace, the late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, endured two rocky confirmation hearings, for associate justice in 1971 and for chief justice in 1986. They were marked by accusations of racial insensitivity and ethical impropriety, based in part on Mr. Rehnquist’s writings as a young lawyer.
Indeed, if anything, his confirmation hearings provide lessons in how to respond to accusations far more charged than anything Judge Roberts is likely to face. And Mr. Rehnquist’s hearings also show how much the coaching and prepping of nominees have changed.