What a Difference 12 Years Makes In the Senate Judiciary Committee


Today the Senate Judiciary met again to discuss the confirmation of John Roberts’ nomination as the nation’s chief justice. The distinguished Senator Joseph Biden of Delaware had a much different take on things today than he did 12 years ago. Rather interesting the change in complete philosophy of questioning comes about when a Democrat is confirming an ACLU lawyer to the Supreme Court vs. a Justice nominated by a Republican President.

Some how its reported that Roberts dodges the abortion question when it was OK for previous Justices not to answer questions posed to them in the past they they felt inappropriate. After continued questions of Roe V. Wade disguised to look like something different than the same question from Democrats came this exchange between Biden, Roberts and Specter:

An exchange between Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., John Roberts and Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa. after Biden prodded Roberts to say whether he agreed with a ruling in a specific case. Biden said Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had answered such questions in her confirmation hearing, but Roberts still declined to answer, saying the issue in the case could arise in the Supreme Court:

Biden: “… Judge, she (Ginsburg) specifically, in response to a question whether or not she agreed with the majority or minority opinion in Moore v. the City of Cleveland said explicitly: I agree with the majority, and here’s what the majority said and I agree with it. My question to you is: Do you agree with it or not?”

Roberts: “Well, I do know, Senator, that in numerous other cases — because I read the transcript…”

Biden: “So did I.”

Roberts: “… She took the position that she should not comment. Justice O’Connor took the same position. She was asked about a particular case.”

Biden: “Oh, Judge, Judge, Judge…”

Roberts: “She said, It’s not correct for me to comment. Now, there’s a reason for that.”

Biden: “But you’re going from the…”

Specter: “Wait a minute, Senator Biden. He’s not finished his answer.”

Biden: “He’s filibustering, Senator. But OK, go ahead.

Specter: “No, he’s not. No, he’s not.”

Roberts: “That’s a bad word, Senator.”

Biden: “That’s if we do it to you. Go ahead. Go ahead and continue not to answer.”

All this would not be so comical and hypocritical on Biden’s part if it were not for this bit of history some 12 years earlier during Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s confirmation hearing. From Progress For America comes this

“In 1993, Senator Biden counseled Ruth Bader Ginsburg not to prejudge cases and she complied, refusing to answer approximately 55 questions, including questions about public education, labor laws, abortion, and many other topics. Twelve years later, he insists that Ginsburg answered questions that she clearly did not and badgers Judge Roberts for following her lead. Just because Senator Biden realizes his advice is no longer politically expedient, it is dishonest, unfair and unacceptable for Biden to attempt to change the rules of the game for Judge Roberts.”

Posted September 13, 2005 by
Supreme Court | no comments

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