Thursday, September 15, 2005

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My only post about the Roberts confirmation

On Monday, I has assumed that Dahlia Lithwick was probably overreacting in her Slate appraisal of the first day of John Roberts' Supreme Court confirmation hearing day. After all, weren't the Senators getting some of their questions from the blogosphere?

Then I actually heard some of the hearings.

To be specific, it was Tom Coburn's spiel about looking at Roberts' body language -- "[Using] my observational capabilities as a physician to know that your answers have been honest and forthright as I watch the rest of your body respond to the stress that you're under." As Ann Althouse put it, "I'm under some stress over here, listening to this nonsense."

Admittedly, it's Tom "Schindler's List is obscene" Coburn, so you have to grade it on a curve. But still....

So I was all set to write a wildly satirical post about the bloviating capabilities of the Senate Judiciary Committee. But I don't think I could top what David Brooks wrote in his column today. Killer quote: "We're not here to argue among ourselves and ignore the nominee. We're here to deliver 30-minute speeches disguised as questions and ignore the nominee."

posted by Dan on 09.15.05 at 10:43 AM


Wasn't Coburn also the one exposed on The Daily Show (of course) the other day for doing a crossword puzzle during one of Roberts' answers?

posted by: hmmmm on 09.15.05 at 10:43 AM [permalink]

After all this, I think the wide eyed, circumspect Mr.Roberts may make a good judge.

posted by: exclab on 09.15.05 at 10:43 AM [permalink]

Senators like to hear the sound of their own voices; so what? It was quite clear from within an hour of day one that Judge Roberts wasn't going to be particularly candid and was going to politely deflect any question to which an answer might reveal something about him.

I'm not blaming Judge Roberts for this, but if he's going to play it safe, and since most of the committee has made up it's mind already, then a Senator bloviating for 30 minutes as opposed to rattling off a litany of questions that will all be dodged with lawyer speak is actually an act of kindness. It spares us from hearing Roberts endlessly reiterate why it wouldn't be ethical of him to comment on everything and each minute a Senator fills up is a minute the next Senator doesen't have to fill in.

I would just read the phone book for 30 minutes, or if I were a Senator, I would bring a selection of my favorite poems as well as some I've penned myself to read out loud, and upon the conclusion of each recitation, I would inquire as to whether Judge Roberts concurred with my appraisal of each poem's worth and whether or not he would like to volunteer some constructive criticism of my own work.

posted by: Dustin Ridgeway on 09.15.05 at 10:43 AM [permalink]

There are, actually, any number of questions a Senator might ask that could elicit quite revealing responses from an Court nominee without requiring him to discuss pending or potentially pending cases.

Roberts, for example, might have been asked what he thinks ought to be the importance of legislative history in assessing legislative intent. What is the loss to the Court now that none of the sitting Justices has ever sat in a legislature? Why should Supreme Court clerks come from the limited number of backgrounds they do? Should not clerk first serve an apprenticeship in Congress or a state legislature?

How is the judicial system affected when Congress federalizes crimes of various kinds (this was a topic Justice Rehnquist was vocal about)? Is the 9th Circuit too large? The Rehnquist Court was sometimes said to believe in the primacy of the judicial branch within the United States Government: do you?

There are many other possibilities, and I give Senators Grassley and DeWine in particular credit for exploring some of them. I was sorry most of the Committee's Senators used the hearing to send valentines to their favorite constituencies, and lengthy valentines at that. By this time I would think everyone was aware that Sens. Kennedy, Biden, and Schumer would vote against any conservative nominee to the Court. They were just looking for a hook from Roberts to make such a vote easier to justify, and perhaps to facilitate fundraising by certain liberal interest groups. I would myself have liked to see less reticence from Roberts, but I saw the Bork hearings firsthand and have long recognized how thoroughly that disgraceful episode poisoned the well, at least so far as conservative nominees are concerned.

posted by: Zathras on 09.15.05 at 10:43 AM [permalink]

Roberts has no idea what the purpose of a court is.


Too bad he'll be sent to the supreme court...

For a supposed smart person he should is clueless
about a courts role in human affairs.

He makes it sound like he's annoyed when court cases
come before him..."What??? Another one? Can't these
people legislate these things? Why do I have to figure
out what congress meant? Sigh."

And on and on and on....

posted by: James on 09.15.05 at 10:43 AM [permalink]

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