The Democratic Daily received the following statement from Ted Kennedy on the nomination of John Roberts as Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court:
Over the last several weeks, we’ve begun to review John Roberts record and overall fitness to sit on the nation’s highest court in preparation for our hearings on his nomination to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Today, those stakes became greater when the President announced he would make a new nomination of John Roberts to be Chief Justice of the United States, an even higher position. 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.
Off the record, I was told that Senator Kennedy, had an idea that this nomination was coming. Our reader, Dave from Princeton pegged this the night Rehnquist passed away.