Two key Senators said yesterday that the confirmation of John Roberts to the Supreme Court could become more difficult if he refuses to divulge his views on past court cases. “Just as you would not have a justice nominee who said, ‘Well I wouldn’t consider Brown vs. Board of Education settled law,’ I don’t see how they could get confirmed,” said Senator Patrick Leahy (VT), ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, according to the Associated Press. “I don’t see how somebody who said they didn’t consider Roe settled law…I don’t see how they get confirmed.” Leahy was speaking on Vermont Public Radio’s “Switchboard” program on Tuesday.
Leahy also said he would vote against Roberts if he seemed to be an activist judge. Conservatives on the Supreme Court “have struck down parts of the Violence Against Women Act, environmental acts, child safety legislation É They’ve knocked down all these, basically writing the law themselves,” Leahy said, according to the Associated Press. “I want to find out if he’s going to be as active as this—as people like Justice [Antonin] Scalia and Justice [Clarence] Thomas, who have almost willy-nilly overruled things.”
In a speech yesterday at the National Press Club, Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said that one “pitfall” that could disrupt Roberts’ confirmation process would be a reluctance on the part of Roberts to discuss his views on past court cases. “Most opinion leaders and scholars think that asking a nominee to answer questions about a specific, already decided Supreme Court case is an appropriate line of questioning,” said Schumer, according to the Washington Times.