by Steven Ertelt
September 6, 2005
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Initial hearings on John Roebrts’ nomination to the Supreme Court were initially set to begin on Tuesday. However, with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and President Bush’s elevation of him as the nominee for the Chief Justice position, the Senate has postponed the first day of hearings until Monday.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist issued a statement on Monday saying Sen. Arlen Specter, the Pennsylvania Republican who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, would determine when the hearings would begin.
Specter, after consulting with members of the judicial panel, announced that the hearings would start Monday and members of the committee would deliver their opening remarks by noon. Roberts, Specter said, would deliver his statement that afternoon and could expect to have questions posed to him beginning Tuesday.
"It is our expectation that we will be able to complete the hearings that week," Specter said.
Despite the delayed start, Frist pledged to have Roberts’ hearings, a committee vote and debate and a vote on the Senate floor conducted in time to have Roberts on the court for its next term, which begins in October.
"We still plan to complete Senate floor action on the Roberts nomination by the start of the new Supreme Court session, Oct. 3, 2005," Frist said.
However, Senate Democrats are agreeing to Monday’s timetable but not to holding a Senate vote by the end of September, according to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.
Frist says he expects the committee to vote on September 22 and for the full Senate to hold debate on Roberts’ nomination starting September 26 and finishing by the end of the week.
"The fact that he’s now been elevated to chief justice shouldn’t slow us down at all," said Sen. John Cornyn, a pro-life Texas Republican.
Although Roberts appears to have enough support to win confirmation, some Democrats are pledging to filibuster his nomination if he refuses to answer questions about abortion in a way they want.
Meanwhile, Senate Democrats want more information about Roberts’ previous work for the Reagan and former Bush administrations to be released since Bush has now named him to replace Chief Justice William Rehnquist, the pro-life jurist who died last Friday.
"The stakes are higher and the Senate’s advice and consent responsibility is even more important,” said Reid. "If confirmed to this lifetime job, John Roberts would become the leader of the third branch of the federal government and the most prominent judge in the nation."
Abortion advocates plan to increase their opposition to Roberts in the wake of his nomination to the chief justice position.