Roberts Hearings, Day Two, Morning Thread

The John Roberts hearings are beginning again. When you embed John Roberts in a link, use the same link I did above.

You can follow the hearings at Pacifica or at C-SPAN.

Use this thread to discuss them. I'll have a rolling commentary, with the newest comments the highest on the list of bullet points. My views are not representative of any organization whatsoever.

  • Biden's done. It's lunch. A complete transcipt of the today's hearings through's Kennedy's questions, which were the first that caused Roberts to drop his calm veneer, can be found here.

    Update: The transcript is being constantly updated, and should be completely caught up soon.

  • Specter: "they may be misleading, but they are his answers."

  • Of course, another major difference between Ginsberg and Roberts is that Ginsberg had a record of 700+ decisions when she was nominated, and Roberts has almost no history of rulings because he has only been a judge for two years. So, while Ginsberg did not answer 30+ questions, senators were able to look at a substantial body of rulings to understand what she was thinking. Also, as Biden pointed out, Roberts is being a lot less specific than Ginsberg was. Thus, Roberts not only refuses to answer questions, not only is he being even less specific than Ginsberg, not only does he repeatedly claim that everything he wrote in the 1980's was the opinion of his bosses rather than his own, and not only is the White House refusing to release important documents that he wrote, but he has almost no history of rulings. This evasion alone is worthy of a filibuster. How are we supposed to know anything about this guy?

  • Biden on the attack--really tearing the Ginsberg rule apart by pointing out where Ginsberg gave specific answers to questions. Says that Roberts is "filibustering" and says "go ahead and continue to not answer my question." Biden is doing something really important here--pointing out that the "Ginsberg rule," as defined by the right-wing, is not the way Ginsberg's hearings actually went. Roberts is engaging in this distortion right along with the Republican Noise Machine, from whom he clearly received this talking point.

  • Biden backing Roberts into a corner about thwy he isn't answering any questions, focused on the "Ginsberg Rule" that the right wing has focused on. This is a good way to end the morning hearings--focus on why Roberts isn't answering anything. Biden has pointed out an instance where Ginsberg said explicity whether or not she agreed with a minoirty or a majority opinion in a given case. Roberts continues to evade.

  • Biden is really going nuts on the baseball stuff. Says that mentioning baseball seems to have helped Roberts yesterday. He is also directly pointing out the problem with the baseball metaphor that Armando pointing out yesterday--namely, that the umpire metaphor isn't apt because "the founders never set a strikezone" on a large number of important decisions that will face the court.

  • Biden is up now. Makes a joke about the baseball metaphors from yesterday. He will be the last questioner before a lunch break.

  • Armando suggest that Roberts has undergone a confirmation conversion on the right ot privacy. I'm not so ure he even went on a conversion, as Confirm Them suggest that he would still have a lot of wiggle room on privacy.

  • Roberts says that he wants to be an umpire, but it looks more and more like he is a player in a game of dodgeball. Today alone, he has repeatedly refused ot answer questions on Roe, on the Voting Rights Act, and on war powers, including internment.

  • Think Progress reveals Coburn's crying hypocrosy from yesterday (includes a good video), which was already at least partly revealed through his crossword adventures.

  • Kennedy up now. Starts on civil rights. "John Roberts" has risen to #6 on technorati, the highest since he was nominated in July. Good. Keep writing and may it keep rising.

  • Confirm Them gushes about Roberts wiggling on privacy:Roberts’ answer was brilliant. He made a statement that will satisfy most Americans about privacy while leaving himself enough wiggle room to move the Court on that issue in the future. And if people have any doubt about what Roberts said on privacy, check out this piece from Confirm Them a few minutes later (emphasis mine):A top-flight, leading conservative pro-life lawyer with a vibrant Supreme Court practice whose name most readers of this forum would know just walked into the room where I’m sitting. He was thrilled about Roberts’ answers during the dialogue with Specter and indicated his strong approval and endorsement. He explained that Roberts’s answer was carefully framed to provide a basis for revisiting and overturning Roe in the future.
  • Best. Hearings. Ever.

  • Roberts avoids specifics on the internment of American citizens of certain ethnic groups, because that case might come before the court. Yikes. I wonder if he would refuse comment on the Dred Scott case as well, because that might come before the court.

  • The final two polls that were taken before the hearings began were two of the best ever for Roberts. ABC shows 55-26 confirm, and Pew 46-21 confirm. Roberts is a lot more popular than Bush.

  • "John Roberts" has dropped to eighth over at Technorati, after rising the seventh earlier today. This is the #1 story in the MSM, but not on the blogs. Go figure--for once they are covering the big story that we aren't dedicating enough time toward. Shame on us.

  • Bush's approval rating drops to 42-57 in ABC / WaPo, a new record low.

  • Leahy is up now. He is asking about Presidential powers, first in relation to war. Specifically, Leahy is arguing that Congress can end a war either through joint resolution or through overriding a Presidential veto of a concurrent resolution. Leahy argues that Roberts's writing indicates otherwise. Roberts refuses to answer the question, because he said it could very well come up before the court. I hope he is correct about the last part.

  • Specter asks Roberts if he believes the Constitution is a living thing. Roberts answers that he believes the tradition of liberty is a living thing.

  • Roberts says that his views on privacy now are not the same as his views in the 1980's. That is the frustrating thing about these hearings--how can you trust him? He hasn't spent enough time ruling in order to know if he is telling the truth.

  • Specter asks Roberts about the right to privacy. Roberts answers with a specific series of ways in which it does, which makes me dubious that he supports a general right to privacy.

  • Blue Oregon has a round-up of yesterday's blogger conference call on Roberts.

  • Roberts says that he will not discuss whether or nor he agrees with either Roe or Casey.

  • Specter opens with a discussion of Casey vs. Planned Parenthood and Stare Decisis. Roberts immediately states that he will not disucss specific cases.

Tags: Judges (all tags)



link to hearings?
Are they on C-Span?
by Happy Talker 2005-09-13 05:42AM | 0 recs
by Goobergunch 2005-09-13 05:43AM | 0 recs
Thanks Chris - this is good stuff - a note:

No meat to the discussion yet. Cotton candy.

I would say this is because America is turning into a fascist state, but unfortunately this case is before us right now and I can't discuss it.

by turnerbroadcasting 2005-09-13 06:33AM | 0 recs
Re: Thanks Chris - this is good stuff - a note:
er. the link to best hearing ever. kinda the same, wouldn't you agree? politics is not supposed to be entertaining.. ever seen anyone put together a model airplane? Thats what I expect out of my politicians - attention to detail, and in the end, it flies.
Saturday night live is good if you have the time.. but haven't we had enough wierdness?
by turnerbroadcasting 2005-09-13 06:38AM | 0 recs
No internment answer?
Somebody needs to ask Roberts about Korematsu.
by Abby 2005-09-13 06:44AM | 0 recs
10:47 EST
Criticizes Lochner as activist decision.
by space 2005-09-13 06:51AM | 0 recs
Plausible Deniability
For weeks they've been running ad campaigns to soften the public to the idea of a content-free confirmation and now Republican Senators are openly begging John Roberts to say as little as possible.

by deadalbatross 2005-09-13 07:05AM | 0 recs
Re: Plausible Deniability
So what is the Dem plan?

Reid was saying wait until the hearings... so where is game plan... to see if Roberts self-combusts???

by Parker 2005-09-13 07:09AM | 0 recs
why lawyers (esp. good ones) drive people crazy...
He explained that Roberts's answer was carefully framed to provide a basis for revisiting and overturning Roe in the future.


While using definitive language to describe 1st and 3rd amendment privacy rights, when he turns to privacy based in substantive due process, he says only that "the court has found [...]"  Purely descriptive, literally accurate, but otherwise content-free phrasing.

His language doesn't even clearly protect Griswold, let alone Roe.  Heck, he's not actually committed by that statement to recognizing the existence of substantive due process, involving privacy or anything else; only that the court has previously said it exists.

But it all had a very soothing sound to it.  He is very skillful.

by arenwin 2005-09-13 08:00AM | 0 recs
Re: why lawyers (esp. good ones) drive people craz
Ah!  NYTimes finally has the Biden transcript up, and I see that Biden finally got him to explicitly say that there's a right to privacy under the 14th amendment.  At least that's something.  Good lord, it's like squeezing water out of a stone.

I love the way Biden turns around the so called Ginsberg rule by asking about specific items that Ginsberg provided answers to.

by arenwin 2005-09-13 11:12AM | 0 recs
Tacit Inferences
Biden scored with that phrase. I haven't looked up the particular reference that Biden use, but it puts the lie to the conservative theory of textualism. The Constitution is a broadly written document with play between the joints for a variety of interpretations.

Biden is exactly right that all judges infer the meaning of the plain text of the Constitution and Congressional legislation. Even the doctrinaire conservative Judge Posner has written about gap filling:

Judge Richard Posner on the Importance of Judicial Gap-Filling

A constitution that did not invalidate so offensive, oppressive, probably undemocratic, and sectarian law [as the Connecticut law banning the use or distribution of contraceptives] would stand revealed as containing major gaps.  Maybe that is the nature of our, or perhaps any, written Constitution; but yet, perhaps the courts are authorized to plug at least the most glaring gaps.  

Does anyone really believe, in his heart of hearts, that the Constitution should be interpreted so literally as to authorize every conceivable law that would not violate a specific constitutional clause?  This would mean that a state could require everyone to marry, or to have intercourse at least once a month, or it could take away every couple's second child and place it in a foster home....We find it reassuring to think that the courts stand between us and legislative tyranny even if a particular form of tyranny was not foreseen and expressly forbidden by framers of the Constitution.

That's the difference between a principled conservative and a conservative reactionary like Roberts.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-09-13 08:59AM | 0 recs
Hell just froze over
Gary just said something nice (or at least, with an absenc of malice) about Sen. Biden!
by LaX WI 2005-09-13 10:52AM | 0 recs
Voting Rights Act
I would describe the VRA, particularly Section 2, about which Kennedy was grilling Roberts, is a poorly executed solution to a very real problem.

There are two types of people who object to Section 2.  Those who support or at least don't care about voter discrimination.  And those who do care but believe Section 2 is poorly tailored to solve real problems without creating significant new problems.

Unfortunately, this hearing is not likely to reveal which type Roberts is (or was when he wrote the Reagan DOJ memo).

by space 2005-09-13 09:37AM | 0 recs
Core of Liberty Question for Roberts
The Death of Liberty
(but don't mention Jose Padilla case?)

"The very core of liberty secured by our Anglo-Saxon system of separated powers has been freedom from indefinite imprisonment at the will of the Executive." Judge Antonin Scalia

  1. Does Roberts agree with statement attributed to Scalia?

  2. Does Roberts believe cases involving abridgement of this "core of liberty" should be given the very HIGHEST preference for review by the Supreme court?
by RonB 2005-09-13 11:12AM | 0 recs


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