Roberts' Evasive Testimony Elevates Concerns Raised by His Record

As John Roberts completed his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas reaffirmed the organization’s opposition to Roberts’ confirmation as Chief Justice of the United States. Neas’ statement follows:

Any Supreme Court nominee should be expected to demonstrate a commitment to the constitutional and legal principles that protect Americans’ rights, liberties, and legal protections.

John Roberts started his confirmation hearing with two major obstacles to overcome: a long record of advancing legal positions that would undermine protections for Americans’ rights and liberties; and the White House’s refusal to release information about Roberts’ role as the powerful second in command at the solicitor general’s office in the first Bush administration at a time when the office worked to undermine legal protections for privacy, civil rights, women’s rights, and religious liberty.

Roberts had an opportunity – dozens of opportunities actually – to address both his troubling record and the lack of clarity about his role and positions on critical cases. But he chose instead to evade, mislead, and stonewall. He refused to answer over a hundred questions posed by Senators from both sides of the aisle – unacceptable obstructionism from a Chief Justice nominee. He repeatedly distanced himself from his own record by claiming to have been just doing his job – but often without telling senators what he thought then or thinks now about the positions he was advocating.

Silence is normally golden, but in the case of Supreme Court nominee John Roberts, it’s downright ominous – especially given his long record of using his political positions to weaken Americans’ legal protections.

This week we have been watching the classic hidden ball trick. John Roberts has spent the last three days trying to hide the ball from senators who are charged by the Constitution with evaluating whether to entrust him with the nation’s most powerful legal job for the rest of his life. No American can expect to be hired for a job if he refuses to answer questions in the interview and Roberts is no exception.

As Chief Justice, John Roberts would have a huge impact on Americans’ lives and legal protections – for decades to come. His record, his silence, and the power of the position to which he’s been nominated, make John Roberts a dangerous bet – one that senators shouldn’t take.

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