Welcome to day 4 of the John Roberts confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee as he hopes to be voted in as the next Chief Justice (big cheese, head honcho, numero uno) of the Supreme Court of the United States. Has this been a long week or is it just me?

Mr “Jell-O”* Roberts stated earlier this week that he did not have an “overarching judicial philosophy”. Not true. Here it is:

  1. respect precedents (stare decisis) except in “extraordinary circumstances” which he refused to define.
  2. follow the “rule of law” and let the Constitution be your guide. Well, that’s fine and dandy but judges do those things every day and their opinions are as varied as there are judges. So much for that little piece of insight.
  3. aspire to humility and modesty. That sounds good but, frankly, a “modest judge” sounds like an oxymoron to me and it did to Senator Schumer as well – who questioned Roberts on that point in a very interesting exchange (catch it at the end of Wednesday’s hearings in the C-SPAN archive)

That’s basically it for his philosophy. Mr Jell-O, indeed.


Here’s Thursday’s proposed schedule (catch the hearings on C-SPAN 3):

9 am ET: Kennedy will be up for a third round of Q & A as will Feinstein and Schumer (who both began their third round Wednesday evening)

after that: the hearing will be closed so Roberts’ FBI file can be discussed

later that same day: witnesses from several Democratic and Republican interest groups will give testimony

Thursday, Sept 22: Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on the confirmation

I have to say that the Democratic senators on the panel have done a good job in their questioning of Mr Jell-O…er Judge Roberts. Biden has been very Bidenesque – injecting the personal into the legal with his usual biting and sarcastic tone that’s gotten him into trouble with the chair, Senator Specter. Feinstein has focused on the importance of woman’s issues and civil rights, although she’s been frustrated by the non-responses. Schumer is one bright bulb. His questioning of Roberts, admittedly, has focused on trying to pry out of Roberts anything personal he can make a judgment about, but that’s been like pulling teeth and Schumer isn’t a dentist with a cooperative patient. Feingold’s questions have been forceful and intelligent. That’s about all I can remember right now. Kennedy, who will probably, maybe, definitely not vote to confirm, has shown that Kennedy wisdom and skill.

I think we can walk away from this week with the knowledge that the Democratic senators did the best they could. Roberts is one tough nut to crack. Biden noted that Roberts is probably the best witness to come before their committee since he’s been around because Roberts has been unflappable.

I have to say that this one has been tough to live blog, considering all of the Latin flying around and the plethora of cases cited. But, it has definitely been a learning experience as far as those cases and that Latin has been concerned. I’ve also learned about 25 different ways to answer different questions the same way ie. “I can’t comment on that because the issue may come before me”. He’s good at that. At least we know that.

What we don’t know is what kind of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court he’ll be – which was supposed to be the whole point of this exercise – a point that several Democratic senators openly expressed frustration about, reflecting their constituents and supporters views. There is no doubt about that.

So, following more questions and testimony this Thursday, the committee will vote next Thursday to send the nomination to the Senate and the Senate will vote to confirm him. The only question left is how many Democrats or Independents will vote against him. The Republicans will vote uniformly or they’ll have Bush’s wrath following them the rest of their lives. Life will go on and we can only wait to see how Roberts will perform. Hopefully, he won’t turn out to be a closet neocon out to destroy America and walk on everyone’s rights – like Bush.


* I call him Mr Jell-O because, as I stated in my previous diary, getting answers out of Roberts is like trying to nail Jell-O to the wall.

Please don’t post any pics. Thanks!

You can find my previous diaries on the hearings here.


Update [2005-9-15 11:51:9 by catnip]: Here is Thursday’s witness list.

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