EDITORIAL: Day One of the Roberts Hearings

by Eleanor Smeal, President Feminist Majority Today on Capitol Hill, John G. Roberts appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee and offered Senators and the American people assurances that he was a nominee with “no agenda” and if confirmed, would decide cases with an “open mind.”

If all of this sounds eerily familiar, it may be because it is not the first time a Supreme Court nominee has offered comforting buzz words which later proved to be empty promises to the Senate.

Today, in his opening statement before the Judiciary committee, Roberts stated:

“Mr. Chairman, I come before the committee with no agenda.” “I have no platform.”

Judges are not politicians who can promise to do certain things in exchange for votes.”

I have no agenda, but I do have a commitment.”

“If I am confirmed, I will confront every case with an open mind.”

“I will fully and fairly analyze the legal arguments that are presented.”

“I will be open to the considered views of my colleagues on the bench. And I will decide every case based on the record, according to the rule of law, without fear or favor, to the best of my ability.”

At his confirmation hearings, Clarence Thomas offered similar assurances to the American public and the Senate. Thomas stated,

“A judge must be fair and impartial. A judge must not bring to his job, to the Court, the baggage of preconceived notions, of ideology, and certainly not an agenda.”

“If confirmed by the Senate, I pledge that I will preserve and protect our Constitution and carry with me the values of my heritage, fairness, integrity, open mindedness, honesty and hard work.”

Antonin Scalia, in an answer to a question from Senator Kennedy in his confirmation hearings, stated,

“I assure you I have no agenda. I am not going onto the Supreme Court with a list of things I want to do. My only agenda is to be a good judge.”

The Senate must not be fooled again. Too much is at stake for women and people of color. Roberts’ record indicates he would greatly weaken anti-discrimination statutes in employment and education; lower the standard for constitutional protection against sex discrimination under the Equal Protection Clause; ignore wage discrimination; gut Title IX; water down voting rights; cut back affirmative action; eliminate the right to privacy (which he has mocked); and reverse Roe v. Wade.

Eleanor Smeal is the president of the Feminist Majority, a national cutting-edge advocacy organization dedicated to advancing women’s equality, which opposes Roberts’ confirmation to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

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