In what became a frustrating three-hour session for Senate Democrats, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a second hearing on President Bush’s nomination of John Roberts to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. During the hearing held earlier this week, Roberts remained tight-lipped about his judicial philosophy. “You are making this an absurd process,” Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) told Roberts. “I think there is something going on here when you’re not willing to answer questions.”
Roberts was already approved by the judiciary committee in February. However, Senate Democrats asked that he be brought back for an additional hearing because his February hearing was held along with Jeffrey Sutton and Deborah Cook. Senate Republicans agreed to the second hearing if the Senate Democratic leadership agreed not to filibuster the Roberts nomination when it comes to the floor for a full vote – expected sometime next week.
Roberts, currently an attorney in private practice in Washington, DC, helped write a brief in 1991 that called for Roe v. Wade to be overturned. He also has argued against civil rights laws being used to protect abortion clinics from violence, affirmative action for minority business contractors and the application of Title IX to the NCAA. During his hearing, he refused to tell the judiciary committee which three past Supreme Court cases he most disagrees with and he refused to describe which justices have the most divergent philosophies.
In response to direct questioning about Roe v. Wade, Roberts refused to characterize his opinion on the case – he instead told the committee that he would uphold settled law. “Roe v. Wade is the settled law of the land, it was even reaffirmed,” Roberts said. “There is nothing in my personal views that would keep me from upholding it.” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) told Roberts that his answers in regard to Roe v. Wade were evasive. “I need more,” Durbin said.
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