Judge Roberts said he was a humble servant of the rule of law. He had "no agenda," "no platform;" he was nothing but an umpire, calling balls and strikes.
The above is from Linda Greenhouse's "An Opening Performance Worthy of an Experienced Lawyer" in this morning's New York Times. Two things.
1) As Ruth notes in an e-mail this morning, a caller to Pacficia's live coverage (which continues today) asked, we'll don't we have a right to test the sight of the umpire?
2) I find something a little sad about someone who supposedly wants to hold a lifetime position on the highest court in the land, a position where he is the Chief Justice of the Court, having to go to baseball analogies to dress up the discussion. Seems to me if you're passionate about the law, you talk about the law.
Tons of people are trapped in jobs they don't want. They certainly have the need for escape. Someone up for the highest position in his chosen field who's unable to communicate on any level other than to toss out sports analogies is a little sad and a little sick.
Yes, the remarks were created ahead of time to win people over. It will probably work. But if it were your doctor, if you were asking your doctor about medicine, you wouldn't want to hear about strikes and balls and umpires. You'd think, "Wait, we're here to talk about my medical condition. Can we treat this seriously?"
Apparently the position isn't enough to excite "Roberts" and he has to go off into sports talk. Is there no one in the league that can make him an outfielder so that we can get a judicial nominee who's actually interested in the law?
What will he speak of next? Football? Checkers?
He didn't mean what he said, it was crafted. But that's an indication of what the people assisting him think of you. Instead of discussing the law in the Senate, he's off doing sports analogies. Can ESPN hire him as a commentator?
Ruth reminds everyone that Pacifica is caring the hearings live:
KPFA listen live · visit online
KPFK listen live · visit online
KPFT listen live · visit online
WBAI listen live · visit online
WPFW listen live · visit online
Lloyd e-mails to note Ruth Conniff's latest "The Rightwing Crackup" (Ruth Conniff's Online Column, The Progressive):
As the Senate Judiciary Committee began confirmation hearings for Judge John Roberts, Bush's nominee to be the next Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, dead bodies were still clogging the streets in Mississippi and Louisiana.
Maybe it was the strain of watching the worst natural disaster in our nation's history unfold, coupled with the most callous and incompetent government response imaginable, that made one Republican on the committee actually start crying during his opening remarks.
Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, denounced "judicial activism" and the idea of a Supreme Court that functions as a "superlegislative body.” And then, out of nowhere, his voice broke and he seemed to lose control for a moment, declaring, "my heart aches," and calling for "less polarization, less bitterness, less partisanship." "Our family structures have declined. Our dependency on government has grown," he lamented.
What was Coburn crying about? He seemed to grow emotional when he began talking about our divided country, and calling for one, united America. But the Roberts confirmation battle has been a pretty easy ride so far--it's not like these are shaping up to be highly divisive hearings. With the Republicans in charge of everything in Washington, and Bush on the verge of installing both a new Chief Justice and a second Supreme Court justice, it's not like partisanship is blocking them at every turn. Besides which, Coburn is the guy who called for the death penalty for abortion doctors, denounced his moderate opponent in the 2004 election as "evil," and called homosexuality America's number-one problem. The idea that he's lamenting divisive politics is a little much.
Lloyd says use to the link and read the full column to see if you don't laugh at the end. (I did. I didn't see that coming.) (First sentence of the last paragraph.)
Gina e-mails to note Christine's take on it, "Roberts: As American as Apple Pie" (Ms. Musing):
John Roberts just concluded his statement, in which he cast himself as a humble servant. His remarks drew upon iconic American images, including baseball games and "the endless fields" of Indiana. (Read the transcripts of all speakers here; visit C-SPAN for video; the Washington Post's Robert Kaiser will discuss the hearings and take questions online at 5 p.m. EST.)
"Judges and justices are servants of the law, not the other way around," said Roberts. "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. Judges have to have the modesty to be open in the decisional process to the considered views of their colleagues on the bench."
Roberts added that he comes before the committee with no agenda and no platform.
"I will confront every case with an open mind," he said. "And I will remember that it's my job to call balls and strikes and not to pitch or bat."
Following the hearing, Sen. Edward Kennedy said he was troubled by Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee urging the nominee not to be responsive to questions. "It is very important for Americans to understand what this justice is all about," said Kennedy, adding that the need is magnified by the Bush administration's decision to restrict access to memos and documents "for reasons we do not know."
And reminding us just how staged the whole thing was from the start, we'll note "Comment: Prayers for Roberts" from The Progressive:
When he went on national TV to announce his nomination of John Roberts to the Supreme Court, President Bush was smirkier than ever. He acted like he'd just dealt himself four aces from the bottom of the deck while no one was looking.
Fox News immediately hailed the choice, with one correspondent quoting a conservative who called Roberts a "hundred percenter"--a staunch rightwinger down the line.
Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, Phyllis Schlafly, Lou Sheldon, Tony Perkins, and Beverly LaHaye all gave Roberts their blessing.
"The nomination of Judge John G. Roberts is an answer to the prayers of millions of Americans," announced the Reverend Rob Schenck of the National Clergy Council.
Robertson also saw the hand of God at work.
"With the likelihood of multiple vacancies on the court, you and I are witnessing the direct result of prayer and intercession," he said, after Sandra Day O'Connor announced her resignation. "Two years ago, I felt an urgent need for people to unite and pray for change in the Supreme Court. . . . We asked our partners and viewers to pray for God to intervene and restore righteousness and justice in our land. Tens of thousands of people responded to this massive prayer offensive and cried out to the Lord to change the court. And God heard those prayers."
There is the possibility that the Lord may be hard of hearing and that Roberts will not turn out to be as rightwing as Robertson and his brethren and sistren believe.
But they certainly have grounds for hope.
Rod e-mails to give us the heads up today's Democracy Now!:
The Senate opens confirmation hearings for Judge John Roberts to be Chief Justice of the United States. Continuing coverage of Hurricane Katrina and its impact on the Gulf Coast.
Amy Goodman's upcoming appearances include:
* Amy Goodman in New York, NY:
Tues, Sept 13
*TIME: 4:15 - 7:15 p.m.
Open UNA public event, on the eve of the United Nations summit w/ Jose Antonio Ocampo, UN Under Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs; NjokiNjehu, Solidarity Africa; John Cavanagh, Institute for Policy Studies; and others.
90 Riverside Drive
New York, New York 10027
Free and open to the public
To register, and for more information, visit www.openun.org
* Amy Goodman in New York, NY:
Wed, Sept 14
*TIME: 7 PM
A debate between George Galloway and Christopher Hitchenson
Iraq and U.S. and British foreign policy.
Moderated by Amy Goodman
*** SOLD OUT ***
Mason Hall at the Baruch College Performing Arts Center
17 Lexington Ave., enter on 23rd St.
New York, NY
Tickets $12 in advance through Ticket Central www.ticketcentral.com
Phone: 212-279-4200 and at the door.,
For more details on this debate and Galloway's U.S. tour September 13-24,visit:
email: Galloway2005@comcast.net or call 415-607-1924.
Presented by: The New Press, International Socialist Review, and the Center for Economic Research and Social Change
1) The debate between Christopher Hitchens and George Galloway is completely SOLD OUT. There is NO overflow seating and NO standby list.
2) Seating is first come first serve! There will be metal detectors, so this will delay us unless people queue early.
3) Anyone who ordered tickets in advance from Baruch's box office to be held at will call can pick them up at Baruch's box office:
55 Lexington Avenue on 25th Street, between Lexington and Third, south side of street 11 am to 7 PM Monday to Friday and day of event 11 am to 3:45 pm then day of event from 4 pm on, they will be available outside the theatre, which everyone will enter on the south side of 23rd Street, between Lexington and Third, closer to Lexington.
4) The event will be webcast live (audio certainly and we hope video as well), starting at 7:10 pm, at many locations, including http://kpftx.org/
6) There is a book signing after the event, starting at 9:10 pm, with
book signing lines for Christopher Hitchens, George Galloway, and AmyGoodman.
* Amy Goodman in Huntsville, AL:
Fri, Sept 16
*TIME: 730 PM
Media-ocracy: How the American Media Compromises Democracy
Chan Auditorium Administrative Science Building
The University of Alabama
Huntsville, AL Admission is FREE
A sign language professional will provide interpretation
For more information, call 256-489-3884 or email Lahaynes@knology.net
Reception before the speaking engagement (Reservations are required!)
6:00 - 7:00 pm
Union Grove Art Gallery
The University of Alabama in Huntsville
Cost is $30. Includes refreshments and Goodman's book, The Exception to theRulers: Exposing Oily Politicians, War Profiteers, and the Media that Love Them.
Reservations: Call 256-824-6210 or
no later than Sept.9, 2005.
Space is limited.
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