With Hearings Scheduled, Senators Debate What to Ask John Roberts

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 1, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

With Hearings Scheduled, Senators Debate What to Ask John Roberts Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
August 1, 2005

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — With hearings scheduled for September 6 in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Supreme Court nominee John Roberts, members are now debating what kinds of questions to ask the man they say is providing them with little information on how he would rule on key cases.

Roberts has been meeting privately with every member of the Senate and the meetings have been hailed as positive, but lacking in details on his policy views.

Wisconsin Democrat Herb Kohl told Knight Ridder news that he had a "great meeting" with Roberts. However, Kohl lamented not learning more about Roberts.

"He speaks very well. He speaks a lot. He responds to you. He wants to engage you. And God bless him, when he was done, it was like, ‘What did he tell us?’ " Kohl recalled. "Nothing."

Senate Democrats expect Roberts to be more forthcoming about his policy views, but the private meetings may foreshadow his responses to the judicial panel next month.

"Whose side is he going to be on?" Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy has said, wondering exactly where Roberts stands on controversial issues like abortion.

But Senate Republicans tell Knight Ridder they don’t think Roberts needs to itemize his views on every single political issue.

"We have neither the desire, need, nor right to know Judge Roberts’ views on most imaginable subjects," Utah Republican Orrin Hatch said last week.

He pointed to the nomination of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 1993. She avoided answering numerous questions, saying she couldn’t prejudge potential cases and citing ABA rules.

"Senators have the right to ask any questions they choose," Hatch told Knight Ridder. "We must realize that simply asking the question does not mean a judicial nominee must answer."

"I’m sure there are some of the outside groups that would like to get a commitment on some of the hot-button issues. But neither the right nor the left is entitled to that commitment," added Texas Republican John Cornyn.

Abortion advocates have also said Roberts should be specifically asked his views on abortion. NARAL President Nancy Keenan asserted in June that pro-life and pro-abortion groups have an "unholy alliance" because they both want senators to pin Roberts down on abortion.

"NARAL is calling on a nominee to the nation’s highest court to act unethically by making a pledge to rule in a specific way on a case that might one day come before the Supreme Court," countered Family Research Council president Tony Perkins.

"While NARAL might believe a nominee should discard judicial ethics and principles to win confirmation, no United States senator, not even the most partisan, could tolerate such a suggestion. Demanding that a Supreme Court nominee prejudge hypothetical cases sets a dangerous precedent ," Perkins added.