This month the Senate considers the historic Supreme Court nomination of Judge John Roberts. President Bush could not have selected a better person for the job. Judge Roberts is an eminently qualified nominee—a distinguished appeals court judge on the D.C. Circuit and a brilliant lawyer who has argued an incredible 39 cases before the Supreme Court.
Judge Roberts is the kind of judge America needs. He approaches the bench with a humble respect for the proper role of the court and an understanding of its limitations. He strictly interprets the law, regardless of his personal political views. He does not make law from the bench to pursue a personal political agenda.
Judge Roberts is widely respected for his integrity and has attracted broad, bipartisan support at the highest levels of the legal community for his fairness, keen intellect, open-mindedness, and judicious practice of the law. During his confirmation process for the D.C. Circuit, more than 150 Democratic and Republican members of the D.C. bar wrote to the Senate calling him “one of the very best and most highly respected appellate lawyers in the nation.”
It was only two years ago when the Senate Judiciary Committee approved his appeals court nomination by a 16-3 vote, and the full Senate unanimously confirmed him by voice vote. This overwhelming support came at a time when party-line committee votes and filibusters of appeals court nominees were the standard.
Judge Roberts clearly deserves a dignified confirmation hearing and a fair up-or-down vote before the end of September so that, if he is confirmed, he can be sworn and seated for the October 3 start of the Supreme Court session. We have plenty of time to meet that goal, but Democrats will try to delay through endless document requests and unfair attempts to require the nominee to pre-judge cases and issues that are likely to come before the Court.
The White House is providing ample, appropriate information so that senators can make an informed decision. The Senate has an overwhelming number of documents concerning Judge Roberts’s judicial philosophy and legal skills. At this writing, the White House has already delivered more than 11,000 pages of documents from his service in the federal government. And senators have access to 327 cases he decided, totaling 2,166 pages.
The White House is right not to release internal, deliberative memos from his time in the solicitor general’s office covered under attorney-client privilege. This decision is in line with the advice of all seven living former solicitors general, who in 2002 warned against releasing these confidential and privileged documents.
Some committee members will insist that Judge Roberts pledge to uphold Roe v. Wade as the price for confirmation. Senators can ask what they want, but judicial nominees should never pre-judge cases or issues that could come before them on the court. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sandra Day O’Connor, and all other justices rightly refused to do so in their confirmation hearings, and the “Ginsburg Standard” should apply to Judge Roberts.
Senators will also question Judge Roberts about his personal ideology and political views. The focus should be on the nominee’s qualifications and judicial philosophy—meaning his commitment to strictly interpret the law— not on the nominee’s political views.
Judges are not politicians. The job of a judge is to review cases and rule based on the facts. Judge Roberts understands that. He is a fair, independent, and unbiased judge who will exercise restraint on the bench. That is why it is my hope that he will be confirmed as our nation’s 109th Supreme Court justice.