[JURIST] The US Senate Judiciary Committee has approved the nomination of Judge John Roberts [JURIST news archive] as Chief Justice of the United States by a vote of 13-5 with all Republican members voting for and five Democrats voting against. Earlier this week, Roberts received an endorsement [JURIST report] from Sen. Arlen Specter, chair of the Judiciary Committee, and also received support [JURIST report] from Sen. Patrick Leahy, the ranking Democrat on the committee. Roberts' nomination will now go before the entire US Senate for a final confirmation vote.
8:45 PM ET - The five committee Democrats voting against the recommendation were Senators Joe Biden [committee statement], Richard Durbin, Dianne Feinstein [committee statement], Ted Kennedy [committee statement], and Charles Schumer [committee statement]. Kennedy said:
We examined the only written record before us and saw John Roberts, aggressive activist in the Reagan Administration, eager to narrow hard-won rights and liberties, especially voting rights, women's rights, civil rights, and disability rights. As Congressman John Lewis eloquently stated in our hearings, 25 years ago John Roberts was on the wrong side of the nation's struggle to achieve genuine equality of opportunity for all Americans. And, despite many invitations to do so, Roberts never distanced himself from the aggressively narrow views of that young lawyer in the Reagan Administration....Three Democrats supported Roberts' nomination: Russ Feingold [committee statement], Herb Kohl and, as indicated above, Patrick Leahy [committee statement]. The San Francisco Chronicle has more.
Based on the record available, there is insufficient evidence to conclude that Judge Roberts's view of the rule of law would include as paramount the protection of basic rights. The values and perspectives displayed over and over again in his record cast doubt on his view of voting rights, women's rights, civil rights, and disability rights.
In fact, for all the hoopla and razzle-dazzle in four days of hearings, there is precious little in the record to suggest that a Chief Justice John Roberts would espouse anything less that the narrow and cramped view that staff attorney John Roberts so strongly advocated in the 1980s.