John Roberts Answers Senate Questionnaire, Bashes Judicial Activism

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 3, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

John Roberts Answers Senate Questionnaire, Bashes Judicial Activism Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 3, 2005

Washington, DC ( — John Roberts has completed a questionnaire given to him by the Senate Judiciary Committee and the panel made the results public yesterday. He disclosed his financial net worth in the documents and said judges should avoid judicial activism by making legislative policy from the bench.

Roberts told the Senate in the questionnaire that judges must be guided by "institutional and personal modesty and humility" if they are to not be seen as activists.

President Bush’s first nominee for the high court complained about the "unjustified intrusions by the judiciary into the realm of policy making" while also saying judges sometimes have to reign in the other branches of government from going too far afield of the Constitution.

The questionnaire asked Roberts discuss his views about arguments that "the judicial branch has usurped many of the prerogatives of other branches of government."

"To the extent that the term ‘judicial activism’ is used to describe unjustified intrusions by the judiciary into the realm of policy making, the criticism is well-founded," Roberts wrote, according to numerous press reports. "Judges must be constantly aware that their role, while important, is limited."

"It is not part of the judicial function to make the law" from the bench, Roberts said. A judge’s job is "simply to decide cases before them according to the rule of law."

"At the same time, the [constitutional] Framers insulated the federal judiciary from popular pressure in order that the courts would be able to discharge their responsibility of interpreting the law and enforcing the limits the Constitution places on the political branches," he added.

Roberts did not directly comment on the Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion, but said that precedent "plays an important role in promoting the stability of the legal system."

Senate Democrats serving on the judicial panel have promised to ask Roberts specific questions about his views on abortion and whether he would overturn the landmark case.

The form also included a chance for Roberts to provide information about his financial holdings, cases he’s argued before the Supreme Court and information on his resume and legal background.

Roberts said he had no recollection of being a member of the Federalist Society, a conservative legal group, though some older documents from the group show him as a member of a steering committee for the organization.

Roberts acknowledged being a part of legal groups working to promote the presidential candidacies of former President Bush and the current president.