Roberts Advances Out of Committee

PFAW Statement on Judiciary Committee Vote

Following the 13-5 vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee in favor of Chief Justice nominee John Roberts, People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas had the following statement:

Today’s Judiciary Committee vote in favor of John Roberts’ confirmation as Chief Justice of the United States was a defeat for the Constitution and the country.

We are especially disappointed in the Democratic senators who voted for Roberts, particularly in light of the Bush administration’s stonewalling on access to documents that could shed light on Roberts’ approach to important legal and constitutional questions and because of Roberts’ own evasive and misleading answers to questions. The appointment of a Chief Justice for life, someone who will lead the Court for the next three or four decades, requires more than a hope and a prayer. We should not be gambling with Americans’ rights and freedoms.

We applaud the majority of Democratic senators on the Judiciary Committee who voted to oppose Roberts’ confirmation. Their votes and statements send a message to their colleagues and to President Bush. Nominees for powerful lifetime positions on the Supreme Court have an obligation to demonstrate that they have a basic commitment to Americans’ constitutional rights and legal protections. This is a burden that Roberts did not meet.

The stakes are enormous in both this nomination and the upcoming nomination to replace Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Together these nominees will shape the future of privacy, reproductive rights, freedom from discrimination in the workplace and in the voting booth, the ability to protect the environment, and the liberty to worship as we choose, free from government interference.

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