[JURIST] Making his own opening statement [NYT transcript] on the first day of his confirmation hearings [JURIST report], US Supreme Court [official website] Chief Justice nominee John Roberts [JURIST news archive] told the Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] Monday:
a certain humility should characterize the judicial role. Judges and justices are servants of the law, not the other way around.He later added:
Judges are like umpires. Umpires don't make the rules; they apply them. The role of an umpire and a judge is critical. They make sure everybody plays by the rules. But it is a limited role. Nobody ever went to a ballgame to see the umpire.
Judges have to have the humility to recognize that they operate within a system of precedent shaped by other judges equally striving to live up to the judicial oath. And judges have to have the modesty to be open to the considered views of their colleagues on the bench.
I come before the committee with no agenda. I have no platform. Judges are not politicians who can promise to do certain things in exchange for votes.The nominee's remarks followed verbal sparring between Democrat and Republican senators [JURIST report] over whether or not it would be appropriate to question Roberts closely about his civil rights record and general ideology, and how he might rule on cases which coming before the court. The confirmation hearings will continue Tuesday at 9:30 AM ET. AP has more. Recorded video from Monday's hearing plus additional background materials are available from C-SPAN.
I have no agenda but I do have a commitment. If I am confirmed, I will confront every case with an open mind. I will fully and fairly analyze the legal arguments that are presented. I will be open to the considered views of my colleagues on the bench. And I will decide every case based on the record, according to the rule of law, without fear or favor, to the best of my ability.
And I'll remember that it's my job to call balls and strikes and not pitch or bat.
In JURIST's Forum:
- Supreme Test: The Questioning of John Roberts
William G. Ross, Cumberland School of Law, Samford University