September 15, 2005

Day 4 of the Roberts hearings.

I'm finally getting around to my TiVo of the 4th day of the hearings. I'm not going to be able to check everyone's work, so I think I'll concentrate on the Democrats. I expect them to repeat what they've already said, but the repetitions of the Republicans will be less remarkable. So let's go.

First up for me is Patrick Leahy, asking about the FISA court and the threat it might pose to liberty. John Roberts says it concerns him too, but doesn't make it too bluntly obvious that Congress created that court.

Next is Ted Kennedy. He asks about the "50 million Americans" with disabilities. That makes me wonder who is included to get to such a large number. He's concerned about inviting all these persons into the mainstream and thinks anti-discrimination law should be uniform, federal law. Roberts gently informs him that there are some difficult legal questions, and Kennedy garbles through a statement that we can get to these legalisms later, but these decisions have an "extraordinary effect on people's lives."

Kennedy asks about affirmative action, and Roberts gives an eloquent answer in which he talks, among other things, about his participation in a program preparing minority students for the rigors of law school. (The point is that admission to law school is not enough. Students must be helped to do well after they arrive at the school, and he has worked at that.) Kennedy rejects a portion of the answer that refers to work involving Native Hawaiians, which Kennedy says was not really about affirmative action. I know nothing about that case, but I observe that Kennedy looks red and sounds blustery. His hands are shaky. I'm thinking he's agonizing, feeling the power draining out of him, as Roberts coolly stands his ground.

Now he's blabbering about the need for a heart. He seems to like to think about himself as representing heart.

Dianne Feinstein is next, and I realize only the Democrats are participating in this round. She compliments him on his "staying power." I wish someone would apologize for putting him through such an ordeal. She pesters him about a study about nine of his cases, which assertedly prove he's going to favor corporations against workers. He points out the statistical invalidity of a study of a mere nine cases. She pursues him about the Iran-Contra matter, and he indicates that he knows little about it. She persists. We see him sipping some water and squaring his shoulders and setting his face into the I-am-concerned-about-what-you're-saying position. I try to imagine the exact wording of his thoughts. Since I believe John Roberts is a human being, I'm guessing: Look like you care, it will be over soon.

I love the way the Democratic Senators act irritated every time he frames an answer in legal terms. Like it's evasive.

Russ Feingold is next, reading his prepared statement very fast. He engages Roberts over questions about habeas corpus. Roberts does a good job of explaining the problems that used to exist about repetitive petitions by prisoners. Congress itself agreed that these were problems and reformed habeas corpus in 1996. It's hard to pillory Roberts for hostility to the rights of convicted persons when Congress itself reformed the process. Feingold clearly knows this and doesn't go too far here. Please know that I regard Feingold as far superior to most of the other Senators.

Should I mention that Jane Sullivan Roberts, after wearing pink and then black, is wearing ivory today?

Skipping Sessions, we're up to the most hotheaded Senator, Chuck Schumer. Actually, Schumer charms me by laying his cards on the table. He knows Roberts is a top-notch litigator, so what question would Roberts ask if Roberts were Schumer and trying to find out if Roberts is an ideologue? Roberts says you've asked all the questions he expected, which makes Schumer say, "So I guess we did a better job than we think we did."

Schumer ends by acknowledging that they've put Roberts through a "grueling" ordeal, and he wins my admiration by saying that he's woken up in the middle of the night wondering what he should do with his vote. I've been assuming that Schumer would vote against Roberts, but I think he's figuring out that he'll seem unreasonable, even incomprehensible, if he votes no. He goes on to make a statement about how impressed he is by Roberts' profession of judicial "modesty," which he finds "appealing," but also wonders about what might be included in it, considering that he called Brown v. Board of Education modest. Will he overturn Wickard and Roe and call it "modest"? He asks a long series of questions about what Roberts will do, and he fairly observes that he genuinely doesn't know. Roberts answer is to assert that he is not an ideologue.

Well, it's gotten awfully late, and I'd like to do more, but I think I'm going to sign off now. I'll try to fill in some of the gaps that I've left tomorrow.

Are you worrying about me and my poor extracted tooth? I'm okay. I haven't even taken any Advil since this morning. The whole after surgery pain issue was overstated, in my opinion. But I do miss my body part. I mourn the loss!

28 comments:

The Mojician said...

The senators don't really believe that any judges can actually put their personal feelings and beliefs aside in order to decide cases based on the law and a logical interpretation of that law. What they are saying to me is that they themselves would not be able to do so and therefore no one would be able to do so. Therein we find the distinction between the classy intellect of Roberts and the visceral advocacy of the politicians.

Troy said...

Kennedy is red and blustery and is feeling the power drain out of him??? Come on Anne -- you know he wants gin and tonic -- he can taste it, feel the cool glass with beads of sweet condensation in his fingers... oh sweet mystery of life!!

olivia1 said...

Please...more, more, more...your observations are so dead on!

Simon said...

I think the main (if not to say sole) observation I have of day four is that the lady who testified against Judge Roberts who was previously a litigant in Tennessee v. Lane - I can't remember her name - was just luminescently beautiful, and I think that I would have had severe difficulty in not finding some grounds - any grounds - to rule in her favor had I been on the Supreme Court for Lane. I fear that either the dissenters are far, far more principled than I am, or Justice Scalia needs to check his glasses prescription.

Lady justice may wear a blindfold, but sadly, I do not.

Jake said...

The Democrats are looking for a judicial dictator to put in laws that they would never have the courage to introduce. And laws the public would never vote for.

The Democrats are very frustrated that Roberts believes in democracy and says so.

carla said...

The Democrats are looking for a judicial dictator to put in laws that they would never have the courage to introduce. And laws the public would never vote for.

The Democrats are very frustrated that Roberts believes in democracy and says so.

Or..

The Democrats would just like to have someone on the bench who isn't going to screw over civil rights and consumers.

I don't know why anyone is bothering to watch the hearings in the first place. The confirmation is a done deal. Hearings like these are nails-on-a-chalkboard annoying.

Bee said...

Ann,
I am eager to hear your thoughts on Feingold from Day 3, as well. You took a well deserved break before commenting on his turn, but never came back to it!

Bee

Chocolate Bus said...

Most of the time I am with the democrats and their way of thinking. But to me it seems they are taking it to Judge John Roberts in the Senate Confirmation hearings just to be doing it.

Thats ok, he (Judge Roberts) is doing just fine with his responses. And as a normally democratic person, I can say with out a doubt that this country is in safe hands when it comes to Judge Roberts.

Senator Joe Biden is one of my favorite Senators, he seems to be someone you can have a beer with. Having said that, I felt his attacks on Judge Roberts were mean spirited, Mr. Biden interuppted to much and did not allow Judge Roberts enough lead way nor time to finish a sentence. Quite frankly if he (Senator Biden) wants to campaign, he can do it when the elections come around.

To me the most bothersome thing about the confirmation hearings is that all these Senators seem to be putting their personal opinion out there to much. I mostly want to hear Judge Roberts views on things, not the Senators.

Martin said...

I understand -- I got my wisdom teeth out last month and am still in mourning... even though they caused me a great deal of pain.

Bee said...

During the last election, I kept thinking "I wish the Dems had had a stronger candidate--someone like Biden." Every time he came on tv, I'd say, "Why isn't Biden on the ticket?"

Evaluating Biden's performance on the hearings, I thought two things: 1.) It's hard for a senator to run for the Presidency and 2.) I would not vote for him now.

Bee

Jack Roy said...

He asks about the "50 million Americans" with disabilities. That makes me wonder who is included to get to such a large number.

I seem to recall a case where SCOTUS had to construe the ADA as it applied to airline pilots who wore glasses; I think the reasoning of the Court was (in part) that Congress had referred to a far smaller number of Americans within the scope of the Act than would have been the case if Congress had intended ordinary myopia to be included in its definition of "disabilities."

Perhaps Senator Kennedy would have voted differently if he were on that Court.

OddD said...

Simon--

Beverly Jones?

Eli Blake said...

Hey, the Senators all have to play to their base, that is what you have been seeing all week.

There is nothing new here, and Roberts will be confirmed, probably with at least a third of the Democratic votes in the Senate (and 100% of Republicans).

I don't personally like him (after all, I'm a liberal) but he's going to get confirmed and everyone knows it. Time to move on to something else.

Joan said...

I should be embarrassed to admit this, but the first thing I thought of when Ann mentioned that Jane Roberts had worn pink, then black, and then white (actually ivory) today, was "She's got a Good'n'Plenty wardrobe!"

(sorry)

Thanks again, Ann. I'm glad to hear you are not having post-extraction difficulties. I always say, prepare yourself for the worst and then be pleasantly surprised when it doesn't happen!

West Coast Independent said...

But the most important question should be leveled at Jane. What does she mean by wearing Ivory after Black and Pink?

Elizabeth said...

Joan, I thought of an old-fashioned tiled bathroom. Nothing insulting there-I LOVE pink, black and white tile.

Aidan Maconachy said...

I thought Kennedy resembled a bloated east coast lobster on crack.

He also seems to be succombing to senile dementia or maybe booze has finally rotted his brain, because he asked Roberts a convoluted question that would have taken a day and half to answer. If it was an attempt to confuse and intimidate - it failed miserably - because Roberts stood up splendidly under fire.

Kennedy also kept looking down between his legs in an odd fashion while he was asking questions. Was there someone under his chair?

Feinstein just looked like a mealy mouthed and bitter ex-member of the Gestapo. Her mean spirited little jibes were easy for Roberts to parry, and he did it with style.

The highlight for me was Biden and his "kabooki" reference lol! Just because he (Joe) tells tall tales in efforts to get elected (something he calls "accountability") ... he expected Roberts to trade info about all of his personal prejudices and preferences. Uh huh ... dream on Joe! You got your little moment of theater and everyone thinks you're a trooper (*sigh).

Roberts did a great job and he'll make a great chief justice.

Aidan Maconachy said...

I thought Kennedy resembled a bloated east coast lobster on crack.

He also seems to be succumbing to senile dementia or maybe booze has finally rotted his brain, because he asked Roberts a convoluted question that would have taken a day and half to answer. If it was an attempt to confuse and intimidate, it failed miserably because Roberts stood up splendidly under fire.

Kennedy also kept looking down between his legs in an odd fashion while he was asking questions. Was there someone under his chair?

Feinstein just looked like a mealy mouthed and bitter spinster aunt. Her poison tipped little jibes were easy for Roberts to parry, and he did it with style.

The highlight for me was Biden and his "kabooki" reference lol! Just because he (Joe) tells tall tales in efforts to get elected (something he calls "accountability") ... he expected Roberts to trade info about all of his personal prejudices and preferences. Uh huh ... dream on Joe! You got your little moment of theater and everyone thinks you're a trooper (*sigh).

Roberts did a great job and he'll make a great chief justice.

vbspurs said...

Has anyone here been listening to NPR's post-hearings panel shows?

If so, you know why I am groaning.

On Tuesday, they had on Senator Ted Kennedy who droned on for the longest uninterrupted monologue I have EVER HEARD on any news programme. I timed it on my car clock at 21 minutes without pause.

He just reiterated every damn point he had made to date about Bush, I mean Roberts! (It's the same thing to him, just an extension of evil, as he sees it)

He'd still be talking now, if they hadn't had to cut to station identification, which to his credit, he joked about...until the NPR presenters gushingly told him to carry on after, as long as he wanted.

They sounded like all the world for Student Government high-schoolers, giggling and overawed at the great man before them.

Oy.

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...

BTW, Ann, your TiVo'ing of these hearings has been nothing short of a job very well done.

I keep thinking of every confirmation hearing I have missed, without the opportunity to get a law prof's insight into the process, as it unfolded, for years.

Can you imagine you doing what you have for the Roberts' Hearings, for the Anita-Hill debacle in 1990?

Then, we had to listen to the one-sided dronings of CNN.

Now, we have bloggers who are infinitely who make these hearings come alive.

P.S.: In today's blogpost, Why This Week was Good for Bush, I also wonder if the usual Friday Surprise won't see a nomination announcement by the President, to fill SDD's position.

Since 9/6, I've been wondering out loud if it won't be Theodore Olson, so we'll see...

Get better with your toof.

Cheers,
Victoria

Chris said...

You are right about the post oral surgery pain being overrated. I had all four impacted wisdom teeth cut out at once and never had any real pain, except one of the stitches went through both my top and bottom gums so I could only open my mouth so far without it pulling on them and hurting for a couple weeks.

That was annoying, but the whole process wasn't nearly as bad as everyone says it is.

Of course I got the IV sedation so I don't remember any of the gruesome details thankfully. There is no way I would let someone in my mouth with a scalpel and a saw while I am concious, that is just creepy. The drill is bad enough.

Simon said...

Oddd - I think that's right, Beverly Jones, yes. Lovely lady.

Scipio said...

Every time that I get to thinking that Chuck Schumer is a big jerk (because he is) I get reminded that at least he is a big jerk who can act politely.

Eddie said...

Schumer was on O'Reilly last night almost hinting that he would vote to confirm Roberts. I might have read it wrong, but he didn't seem to be too upset about him.

I just hope that Bush has the wisdom to nominate another clever strict constructionist right winger who doesn't answer questions for the next nomination.

Cat said...

Schumer has had so much bad publicity about how he will be out to get Roberts because of how they sparred (and Schumer looked like such a loser) when Roberts was infront of them for his last appt, he may be trying to look more reasonable. Or he may be trying to look like he really thought long and hard about it(it even kept him up at night) before he voted no.

Chuckie is a major sleezoid with a grudge. His mind is made up and he will vote no. All of his supposed deliberation is a ruse.

Jim Holmes said...

What's up with skipping Sessions? I don't have any feelings on him one way or another, I was just wondering what your rationale was.

Ann Althouse said...

Jim: I ended up skipping lots of them later in the line-up. I skipped Sessions because I thought the odds were low that I'd have my best comments on his presentation.

Cat said...

Anne - here we go with more "feelings."

Schumer laid out his cons on Thurs with, "On the con side is the question of compassion and humanity. I said on the first day of these hearings that it is important to determine not just the quality of your mind, but the fullness of your heart–the ability to truly empathize with those who are less fortunate and who often need the protections of the government and the assistance of the law to have any chance at all."

They can't seem to understand that you are not supposed to judge a case with FEELINGS and Roberts has repeated this over and over...