Ted Kennedy on the Nomination of John Roberts as Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court

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.

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14 Responses to Ted Kennedy on the Nomination of John Roberts as Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court

  1. Todd says:

    The thing is (and I spell this out in more detail on my blog) the Chief Justice, while symbolically important, isn’t really any more important than the other 8 (“First Amongst Equals”). When you look at the history of Chiefs, the best were former pols who knew how to “work a deal” and came to the bench with a load of experience and wisdom. Bush’s selection of the inexperienced Roberts really shows you how much political capital the guy has lost. I agree with Kennedy in that it does raise the stakes a bit, but Roberts being as young and inexperienced as he is will probably be ineffective and largely irrelevant in the post for quite a long time.

  2. kj says:

    Here’s what we’re up against, even though the ad distorts the facts:
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20050830/ap_on_go_su_co/roberts_adwatch

  3. kj says:

    Whoops, posted too fast above. Here’s the rebuttal:
    http://mediamatters.org/items/200507040002

  4. Todd

    I wish I could share your faith. I’m of the opinion that Kennedy was “mildly” stating his opinion in this statement — I expect him to start blasting soon, but as he stated the primary concern right now should be Katrina.

    This is SO like Bush to try to slip this in the midst of a disaster. It could have waited.

  5. Marjorie G says:

    My concern is that Roberts is not a Souter, although I would like to think he will become independent, and if Conservatives eventually lose power, he could realign.

    However, these new guys are like the mob. Everyone pays a little on the way up, favors done, and candidates owe. Enough to never leave the family. The think tanks, institutes, next jobs, and they owe.

    Roberts owes big time.

  6. David says:

    Roberts is a dangerous person in ANY judicial position. His writings show him to have a clear Nixon-Reagan agenda to turn the clock back to the days of Jim Crow or worse. He would be especially dangerous in the Chief Justice position since the Chief Justice often decides who writes the majority opinion. With that power the Chief Justice can, at a minimum, weaken decisions that could advance the cause of fundamental rights. He should not be confirmed. Unfortunately, there are not the votes to defeat his nomination. We will soon reap the fruits, to the extreme, of electing the wrong people to the White House and the Senate. The strategy of using the courts to right wrongs that the legislative and executive branches create or refuse to correct will be a memory.

  7. Todd says:

    David,

    The assignation of opinions, however, is only relevant once the outcome of the vote is decided. If Robert is ineffectual in leading four other justices anywhere, who writes what opinion won’t matter. Plus, if he’s as conservative as Rehnquist, I don’t see him assigning any more opinions to Scalia/Thomas than the former Chief did. But I share your concern, nevertheless…we’re going to reap what we’ve sown as an electorate.

  8. Pamela,

    Hey, I was right about something! Yippie! Even a broken clock is right twice a day, so I guess it had to happen sooner or later. I’m going downstairs to give myself a cookie! 🙂

    Actually, within days after Roberts was nominated to replace O’Connor, I’d have bet money Bush would end up nominating him for Chief Justice, as soon as the opportunity arose. I’d assumed he was waiting in the wings as Rehnquist’s replacement. When O’Connor surprised everyone, they just continued with the original plan. As long as he was confirmed for her seat, they knew when the Chief’s chair opened up within another year at most, he’d be a shoe-in to head the court.

    “The Senate just overwhelmingly endorsed this good man last year after viewing his outstanding record of public service to this country. Now is not the time to play partisan politics, when we are fighting the war on terra. I expect the Senate to confirm this good man immediately so we can get back to work for the American people, as they expect us to do.” “Oh yeah, and if you hold up his confirmation for even 1 day, you’re helping the terra-ists in Iraq!

    I became worried about how very conservative he must really and what seat he would likely be filling one day, as soon as I watched one particular show. I saw Ben Ginsberg(the Bush campaign lawyer & slime boat liars for Bush lawyer) on a cable news show. He was on as a legal talking head expert to discuss the Roberts nomination. Now often Ginsberg has looked like a vulture to me. On this show though, when discussing Roberts, the only way I can describe it is he had this real creepy big smile, was almost giddy and looked like he was trying not to drool with glee to much while licking his lips. He actually reminded me of Mr. Burns on the Simpsons, when Burns is told something deliciously evil and his reaction is always: ~rubbing hands together, head hunched over~ “Excellent…”.

    Gave me the creeps instantly. Then after hearing about how carefully Roberts and others have appeared to be to keep his paper trail minimal, his real views on important subjects and public statements hidden or inoffensive and innocuous, it seemed to me he had been likely been selected and groomed by the Federalist society years ago for this moment.

    As we all unfortunately know all to well, the right for decades had been extremely smart in deciding to take a very long term view on many political strategies and plans that they knew often wouldn’t come to fruition for years or decades. For example, setting up well funded conservative think tanks and right-wing rags, grooming generations of young conservatives for taking the reigns in the future, convincing not just almost every conservative but most moderates, many Dems, even many liberals and the MSM itself, that the MSM has always been and still is liberally biased in their reporting.

    Oh well. The next appointee is the one that could really shift the court to consistent conservative minimum 5-4 decisions on every important issue for years. At this point, I’m actually hoping for Alberto Gonzales… He appears to scare the religious right and far right. That means maybe there’s a chance that on some social issues we might have a chance. Sad to say, but approving of torture and ignoring the Geneva convention might seem like small potatoes compared to what we could end up with otherwise…

    Just pray that nothing happens to Justice Stevens or our country may never be able to recover.

  9. Marjorie G says:

    Dave, that same grin Ginsberg had on TV talking about Clinton’s downfall and the impeachment. He and Mark Levin, Heritage guy, self-righteous and wrong, but the kind of stuff I can’t instantly debate because I’m too mad. You know, self-serving and superior.

    Still don’t know how Ginsberg got to leave the White House to steer the Swifties, without any media payback. Passed go to Hardball, without skipping a beat.

  10. David

    I know it looks bleak right now with out the votes. I’m hoping that Kennedy and Leahy have some tricks up their sleeves for the Judicial Committte hearing. I’ve read that even Spector has concerns about Roberts at this point.

    I’ll be keeping close tabs on this — expecting to have lot’s more from Kennedy’s office on this. We need to get the word out where ever we can.

  11. Dave from Princeton

    Two cookies for you — you sure did peg it. I’m worried about the next appointee myself and the Stevens factor is huge. Uncle Teddy saw this coming. We can hope that he may have some sway with the more moderates on the committee.

    We can hope, right? Me Polyanna, here. I’m still believing JK – “Hope is on the way”. I have to hold on to that.

  12. Hi Marjorie,

    Yeah, it is a creepy look isn’t it…

    Mark Levin is a totally worthless dirt bag. He’s on WABC NY hate talk radio and I used to listen to him for short amounts on the way home from work occasionally. Couldn’t take him for much more than 10 minutes or so. He’s actually supposed to have been a constitutional attorney at one time, like Ann Coulter apparently was. Amazing to think either of them could ever possibly make even a minimally coherent legal argument. They both sure hide it well enough. At least Ginsberg you can believe is an attorney, even if he is evil.

    I think Levin is the worst I’ve ever heard on the hate radio line up. He doesn’t even try to make a worthless smarmy Coulter type response usually. Don’t think I’ve ever heard him respond to a non-right-wing caller with anything but insults and shouting over them the whole time. Normally they don’t even get to say anything. He just screams at them, hangs up on them and continues to trash them. Sheesh, even Hannity sometimes lets people get a few words out before screaming that it’s Clinton’s penis’ fault…

    Hope you enjoyed Canada. I spent a couple summers in HS hitchhiking around up there. Mostly between Quebec and Ontario. Though we spent by far most of the time in Quebec. I had a lot of fun up there. Haven’t been back for years and really have to one of these days.

  13. Pamela Leavey September 5th, 2005 at 6:52 pm

    Yeah it is scary. It could end up effecting our country for a generation, if not more. This could be Bush’s chance to seal his legacy of permanently damaging our country…

  14. For a daily look at the John Roberts nomination, visit the Supreme Court Zeitgeist…

    http://judgejohnroberts.com

    It’s a mash-up site with news articles, popular bookmarks, recent blog entries, books & magazines, and other Supreme Court related links and content.