News Articles

Roberts hearing to begin Sept. 6; liberal foes mount

WASHINGTON (BP)–The highly anticipated confirmation hearing for U.S. Supreme Court nominee John Roberts will begin before the Senate Judiciary Committee Sept. 6.

The hearing will open on the heels of a string of opposition announcements from liberal organizations but with the expectation Roberts will be confirmed minus any surprising developments.

Sens. Evan Bayh, D.-Ind., and John Warner, R.-Va., will introduce Roberts to the Judiciary Committee, USA Today reported Sept. 1. Bayh will present Roberts, an Indiana native, in keeping with “the long-standing, bipartisan tradition of introducing a nominee from his home state,” although Roberts himself has not decided how he will vote on the confirmation, a spokesman for the senator said, according to USA Today.

President Bush nominated Roberts July 19 to replace Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who retired July 1 after 24 years of service. Roberts, 50, has been on the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals since 2003.

The hearing will begin at 1:30 p.m. EDT Sept. 6, with opening statements expected on the first day from Roberts and the 18 members of the committee. Senators are scheduled to begin questioning the nominee when the hearing resumes at 9:30 a.m. Sept. 7. The proceedings are expected to continue through at least Sept. 9.

Pro-life, pro-family advocates so far have given widespread support to Roberts. Though the former aide in the Reagan and first Bush administrations has not committed himself on the Roe v. Wade opinion legalizing abortion, social conservatives appear content to trust his judicial philosophy, which seems to be based on operating within the constraints of the Constitution.

Meanwhile, abortion-rights organizations fear Roberts will vote to overturn the 1973 ruling and have urged his defeat. Among those publicly opposed to his confirmation are NARAL Pro-choice America, the National Organization for Women and the National Abortion Federation. Before O’Connor’s retirement, the high court had six justices who supported Roe and three who opposed it.

Since Aug. 24, several liberal organizations have declared their opposition. They include: Americans United for Separation of Church and State; People for the American Way; National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and Alliance for Justice. Four major homosexual activist groups — including the Human Rights Campaign — have also said they oppose Roberts’ nomination. The American Civil Liberties Union expressed “deep concern” about Roberts without explicitly opposing him.

Americans United charged in an Aug. 29 report that Roberts’ writings show he is a foe of church-state separation and freedom of conscience.

“Religious liberty is a cornerstone of the American way of life, and John Roberts simply does not understand that concept,” AU Executive Director Barry Lynn said in a written release. “He has been a faithful solider in the far right’s campaign to roll back the church-state safeguards protecting all Americans, especially religious minorities.”

The American Center for Law and Justice, however, rejected AU’s characterization.

“AU is afraid that John Roberts does not subscribe to its extreme secularist view that the government must avoid any recognition of the nation’s religious heritage,” ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow wrote on his organization’s website. “Contrary to AU’s assertions, confirming John Roberts would not pose any threat to the religious liberty of minorities. AU’s report deserves no credence at all from either the American people or the United States Senate.”

The American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Federal Judiciary announced Aug. 17 it unanimously had found Roberts “well qualified” for the Supreme Court.

    About the Author

  • Staff