by Steven Ertelt
July 20, 2005
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Senator Arlen Specter, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, says Supreme Court nominee John Roberts will get fair and comprehensive hearings from his panel. The hearings will likely take place in August.
Specter pledged Wednesday to give Roberts "full, fair and complete" hearings. That would please President Bush, who urged the Senate to be "civil" in how it deals with his first nomination to the nation’s top court.
"I urge the Senate to rise to the occasion, provide a fair and civil process and to have Judge Roberts in place before the next court sessions begins on October the third," President Bush said on the morning after tapping the pro-life Harvard-educate appeals court judge to be on the Supreme Court.
Specter told a press conference that he thought hearings would begin in late August after Senate officials have time to conduct a background check and collect papers and other information about Roberts and his opinions.
"And I can assure you that the hearings will be full, fair and complete," he told reporters.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, the Judiciary Committee’s top Democrat, is hoping for very intensive hearings.
"No one is entitled to a free pass to a lifetime nomination to the Supreme Court," Leahy told Bloomberg News.
Roberts had breakfast with the president at the White House Wednesday morning and plans to meet with Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid. He’s also meeting with Frist, Specter and other top senators.
Reid, suggesting that Senate Democrats are cautious on their outlook of the nomination, said Bush’s pick "has had an impressive legal career" and other good qualities, but "they do not automatically qualify John Roberts to serve on the highest court of the land."
He said senators "must be convinced that the nominee will respect constitutional principles and protect the constitutional rights of all Americans."
Robert’s views appear to be on a collision course with Roe v. Wade, the decision that legalized abortion. That’s caused pro-abortion groups to come out against his nomination and could lead to a filibuster.
Specter, who backs abortion, told the press conference he was distressed that pro-abortion groups so swiftly denounced Roberts’ nomination. However, he said he would plan to ask Roberts about his opinion on abortion.
Fred Thompson, the pro-life former Tennessee Republican senator asked by Bush to shepherd Roberts’ nomination through the Senate, acknowledged to the Associated Press that abortion will be one of the top lightning rod issues. At the same time, Roberts can, as he has done in the past, play down his views and discuss her service for various administrations.
"Many of the positions he’s taken are positions he took as an advocate … representing a client," Thompson said.
Specter said he was hopeful Senate Democrats would not launch a filibuster.
"I’m optimistic there won’t be a filibuster,” Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican, told reporters today. "I’m hopeful it won’t be a partisan battle.”