Senate Hearings on John Roberts Set for September 6th

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 29, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Senate Hearings on John Roberts Set for September 6th Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 29, 2005

Washington, DC ( — The Senate is scheduled to begin debate on John Roberts’ Supreme Court nomination on September 6, under a procedural agreement reached Friday by Republican and Democratic leaders. The date is the Tuesday following Labor Day — the first week the Senate will be back in session following its August recess.

Democrats have pledged not to slow a Senate Judiciary Committee vote on Roberts, but have made no guarantees about a confirmation vote on the floor.

Earlier this week, Sen. Arlen Specter, the Pennsylvania Republican who heads the judicial panel, said he would hold hearings on the week of August 29 unless Senate Democrats agreed to a vote before September 29. Democrats did not agree to that, but did promise not to use Senate or committee rules to hold up the committee vote.

Republican leaders decided they would have enough time to press for a full Senate vote after the committee votes on the nomination on September 15. GOP officials have set September 26 as a tentative date for a full Senate debate and a final vote could occur that day or the next.

Sen. Patrick Leahy said he didn’t think Democrats would be ready to vote by then and told Fox News he hoped to reach a bipartisan agreement on a vote date.

Roberts is expected to at least receive a party-line vote in his favor in committee and received only three votes against him in 2003 when he was up for an appeals court post.

There has been no word on whether Democrats will launch a filibuster once Roberts’ nomination gets to the Senate floor. Some Democrats have pledged to vote against him if he says he opposes the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized unlimited abortion throughout pregnancy, but they have not indicated they would filibuster.

Other Democrats appear to support Roberts.

Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana called him an "outstanding" pick for the high court and Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska indicated he would likely vote for him.

President Bush wants the Senate to finalize a confirmation vote on Roberts in time for the new Supreme Court term, which begins on October 3. He formally sent Roberts’ nomination to the Senate on Friday.

The format for the hearings has not been announced, but the Associated Press reports Senate Democrats want Specter to allow each senators on the judicial panel 90 minutes to question Roberts.

"The important part of the hearing is that it be fair, senators have ample time to ask questions, and then ask some more questions, and then after they ask questions, submit questions in writing," Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada said Friday.

Roberts currently serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.