Senate Democrats May Not Filibuster John Roberts’ Nomination

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 21, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Senate Democrats May Not Filibuster John Roberts’ Nomination Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 21, 2005

Washington, DC ( — Leading Senate Democrats are tiptoeing gracefully around the Supreme Court nomination of John Roberts — not wanting to say anything disparaging, but saying they will hold off on supporting him until after Judiciary Committee hearings. But, some senators are saying it appears Roberts may not be a victim of a filibuster like President Bush’s appeals court picks.

Senate’s Democratic Harry Reid of Nevada has said he’s not heard any members of his caucus mention filibustering Roberts’ nomination.

Former vice-presidential candidate and Connecticut Democrat Joe Lieberman said Roberts was "in the ballpark" of nominees who are not likely to be filibustered.

Meanwhile, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat who strongly backs abortion, says she doesn’t think it’s likely either.

”Do I believe this is a filibuster-able nominee? The answer would be no, not at this time I don’t," the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Whether Roberts’ nomination is subject to a filibuster may depend on what the so-called "Gang of 14" decide to do. They are a group of seven Democrats and seven Republicans who agreed on a deal to not filibuster some of Bush’s appeals court nominees in exchange for not changing Senate rules to prevent filibusters of judicial picks.

Part of the deal included language saying the group would not filibuster future court picks except in "extraordinary circumstances." That term has been left up to individual senators to define for themselves, but some members of the group say they don’t believe Roberts falls in that category.

”I think that Judge Roberts deserves an up-or-down vote, and I hope that the other members of that group agree with me,” Arizona Republican John McCain said.

Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson, who is pro-life, agreed that "at present I haven’t seen anything that would rise to extraordinary circumstances," though he wouldn’t commit his support yet.

"I want to reserve judgment until the final bell," Nelson told USA Today.

Lieberman also agreed and said the purpose of the group was to encourage Bush to appoint a "mainstream conservative."

”And it appears at first look that Judge Roberts is that,” he said.

However, abortion advocates, who have come out strongly against his nomination, will likely pressure Senate Democrats to filibuster the nomination.

Pro-life groups, on the other hand, like what they see of Roberts so far.

A former clerk of pro-life Chief Justice William Rehnquist, Roberts is also a former legal counsel to President Reagan.

As Principal Deputy Solicitor General during the first Bush administration, Roberts played an active role in efforts to limit abortion.

Roberts argued in a brief before the U.S. Supreme Court that "[w]e continue to believe that Roe was wrongly decided and should be overruled. [T]he Court’s conclusion in Roe that there is a fundamental right to an abortion … finds no support in the text, structure, or history of the Constitution."

In Rust v. Sullivan, the Supreme Court considered whether the Department of Health and Human Services could counsel women to have abortions. Roberts said regulations prohibiting that were constitutional.

Despite his views in legal briefs, Roberts has yet to rule on any abortion cases during his tenure on the bench.