Shortly after his nomination for the Supreme Court in July 1991, Clarence Thomas went to a downtown Washington office to take part in strategy sessions aimed at ensuring his confirmation by the Senate.
The presiding political mind was not a top White House aide or a legal eagle from the Justice Department but lobbyist Kenneth M. Duberstein, a former Reagan administration official who was Thomas's designated "sherpa" his guide through the potentially treacherous process.
Duberstein, then and now, is one of a handful of Washington figures who have acquired reputations for steering top presidential nominees through a confirmation process that has grown more contentious and partisan since the unprecedented campaign that capsized Judge Robert H. Bork's Supreme Court nomination in 1987, reports Washington Post.
According to USA Today, conservative groups such as the Committee for Justice accused their opposition of playing politics with the disaster on the Gulf Coast and saying that the conservative Roberts has favored several legal positions that would benefit minorities and the poor.
"It is sickening that some in Washington would politicize a national tragedy," said Sean Rushton, executive director of the Committee for Justice.
The MoveOn ad is to begin airing on the day that Roberts' confirmation hearings begin in the Senate. Roberts, a former government lawyer who argued 39 cases before the Supreme Court while in private practice, has been under scrutiny since he was nominated to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor in July. After the death of conservative Chief Justice William Rehnquist last weekend, Bush tapped Roberts for chief justice.
Roberts has appeared to be headed for a fairly easy confirmation. But in recent days, liberal groups such as MoveOn and People for the American Way, along with Senate Democrats such as Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, have focused on memos Roberts wrote as a lawyer for the Reagan and first Bush administrations.