Top Senate Judiciary Democrat Calls John Roberts’ Views "Radical"

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 17, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Top Senate Judiciary Democrat Calls John Roberts’ Views "Radical" Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 17, 2005

Washington, DC ( — The leading Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday called Supreme Court nominee John Roberts’ views "radical." The comment comes a day after new documents were released showing Robert telling a California physician that abortion is a "tragedy."

Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont criticized President Bush’s first pick for the high court as an "eager, aggressive advocate" for political policies he opposes. Leahy released a statement saying Roberts was views were "among the most radical being offered by a cadre intent on reversing decades of policies on" issues such as abortion.

Leahy made his remarks without specifically saying he would oppose Roberts’ nomination. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has called on Senate Democrats to not issue a blanket opposition to Roberts until after the hearings in the judicial panel on September 6.

Despite that, leading abortion advocates such as Sen. Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat, have announced they will oppose Roberts unless he backs abortion and the Roe v. Wade decision during the hearings. Boxer has threatened to filibuster Roberts’ confirmation vote unless he pledges to support abortion.

Steve Schmidt, a White House spokesman, told the Associated Press in response to Leahy’s comments, that they reflected a strategy of trying to make a mainstream candidate for the bench appear extreme.

"The ease with which Sen. Leahy distorts Judge Roberts’ record is troubling and may indicate that the Democrats are not yet done trying to make that argument, although it has already been discredited," Schmidt said.

Regardless of Leahy’s comments, Roberts appears to be headed towards a solid confirmation vote, Democratic insiders say.

More than a dozen Democratic senators and top aides told the Washington Post that they don’t expect a big fight. In fact, Roberts may be able to count on as many as 70 votes — more than enough to turn back a threatened filibuster by abortion advocates.

Meanwhile, Senate Republicans have circulated a memo showing that the White House has 56 senators who they believe will vote for Roberts, including 44 who are solid. They have 44 as unknown, but eight of those are Republicans who simply haven’t made a public comment but are expected to support Roberts and nine others are Democrats who have made positive public comments about the nominee.

That leaves just 27 senators who may not support the first addition to the Supreme Court in over a decade.

With so many senators appearing to support Roberts, backers may easily be able to find 60 votes to stop Boxer and her colleagues from filibustering.