Reaction to John Roberts' Chief Justice Nomination
Senator Edward Kennedy responds to President Bush's elevation of John Roberts nomination from Justice to Chief Justice(received by e-mail):
.....Only 17 Americans have held this position since the birth of our country. The Chief Justice is the most important judge in the country, with even more responsibility for the protection of the rights and freedoms of all Americans. Thus John Roberts bears a heavier burden when he comes before the Senate. The Chief Justice must be committed to moving America forward toward equality, opportunity and fairness for all Americans.
Our review of even the limited available parts of his record has raised serious concerns about his role in the early 1980's in seeking to weaken voting rights, roll back women's rights, and impede our progress toward a more equal nation. The Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, which were due to begin this week, were the opportunity for the Senate and the American people to hear from John Roberts about those extreme views and explain his position on these and many other vital issues facing the country.
Before the Senate acts on John Roberts' new nomination, we should know even more about his record, and we should know whom the President intends to propose to nominate as a replacement for Sandra Day O'Connor. The American people care deeply about the overall balance of their highest court, and its dedication as an institution to the protection of their rights.
In the midst of a national disaster of biblical proportions, it is difficult for the American people to participate fully in the selection of the next Chief Justice, one of the most important positions in our government and the chief protector of our constitution. Right now, as they should be, the hearts and minds of the American people are focused on helping the victims of the hurricane. Our response and focus to Hurricane Katrina is a defining moment in our nation's history and a test of our decency and humanity as a people. The White House, Congress, and the American people must all focus together to address the unprecedented human suffering and long term impact on our nation.
The President should take this time to unite and heal the country -- by remaining focused on helping the hurricane victims recover, honoring Chief Justice Rehnquist's memory by allowing the nation to mourn, and taking time to ensure our next steps on the Supreme Court point the country in the direction of progress.
PFAW also opposes the nomination: (by email)
The attention of the Senate should be on the tragedies still unfolding in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. With the stakes now even higher for the nation, it would be irresponsible for the Senate Judiciary Committee to conduct confirmation hearings this week. The justices who are appointed to replace O’Connor and Rehnquist will serve for decades. There should be no rush to confirm them without the full attention of the Senate and the American people.
Given these stakes, President Bush and John Roberts must be held to the highest standards of openness. President Bush must immediately provide documents he has been withholding from Robert’s tenure as principal deputy solicitor general in the first Bush administration. And Roberts must abandon the strategy of evasion that he pursued during his appeals court confirmation hearing and must be willing to fully answer senators’ questions about his approach to our Constitution. Excessive secrecy is an enemy of accountability and an enemy of representative democracy. Senators must be given the truth about Roberts’ judicial philosophy before they vote on whether to confirm him to the highest judicial seat in the nation.
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