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Monday, September 12, 2005

Roberts' confirmation begins

It's Senate confirmation time and so I tune in to C-SPAN. Even though I have an office in my home, I am never tempted to stray from my office to watch TV — EXCEPT during major news events.

After a morning that began at 5:30 (actually my day today began yesterday when I spent the afternoon getting prepared for the busy week head), I’m taking timeout for a BLT and a little indulgence to watch the Senate Judiciary Committee members bloviate as Supreme Court Chief Justice nominee John Roberts sits and wonders how long these guys are going to give him a history lesson he doesn’t need. Can’t these guys get together and review their speeches so that we don’t have to hear the same lesson over and over?

Two themes emerge as we’re up to Sen. Joe Biden (D-Delaware):

Republicans are careful to point out that nominees should not feel forced to answer questions about future issues that may come before the court.

Democrats are quick to point out, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, that this country does indeed need a federal government. And that he should answer questions about how he feels about fundamental issues likely to come before the Supreme Court.

Roberts’ eyes shift a lot and he looks at times as if he’s either stifling a laugh or a bowel movement. I’m not poking fun. Hell, I can’t imagine what it would take to stay focused on the windbags who are clearly grandstanding. (“As we discussed in my office…”) Hey, wait a minute, Roberts actually looks a little like W. He even occasionally gets the same vacant stare.

Okay, I hear what the Republicans are saying about limits on the questioning of nominees. For the most part, I agree. I’d like to hear generally how he feels about certain matters of law related to our constitution. But I would NOT want him to make sweeping statements on specific issues likely to come before the court without having heard all evidence. That would fly in the face of the term "impartial judge" (which lately seems to be an oxymoron anyway).

I do feel, however, that he is obligated to fully address any questions related to his past writings and rulings. Those answers, I’m hopeful, will illustrate the kind of legal mind he possesses and his philosophy toward our Bill of Rights. Ultimately, that’s what we’re investigating this week and that's what the American people deserve to hear from a public servant with a lifetime appointment.

More later ... gotta read a review book.

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