Roberts' Hearings End; Judiciary Committee to Vote Next Week

The senate judiciary committee ended questioning for Judge John G. Roberts on Thursday. Senators will vote next week, with most reports stating that is not a matter of if he will be confirmed but rather, by how many votes.

Senators heard testimony this week where Roberts revealed much about his judicial philosophy but few specifics about how he would judge on controversial issues such as abortion and end-of-life matters. Roberts told senators on Thursday that if they looked at his record as a judge, two years as an appellate judge, they would decide that he was not an “ideologue.”

"I don't think if you read those opinions, you'll say those are the opinions of an ideologue. That should convince you that I'm not an ideologue," Roberts said. "Look at my briefs and you'll conclude that's a person who respects the law."

Conservative Christian observers were mixed in their levels of satisfaction in terms of how much they knew about Roberts’ views, though most still supported him for confirmation.

Those focused on the judicial philosophy of Judge Roberts were satisfied with the results, while some wanting to know the likelihood of certain outcomes over the important legal issues of the day felt frustration that he did not reveal his views more clearly.

Jay Sekulow chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, who has argued cases before the Supreme Court, including some relating to religious matters, referred to questioning by Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.), as one instance where Roberts fended off “litmus tests” attempting to gain “political and policy positions” from him.

“Senator Biden basically asked Judge Roberts to take political and policy positions, because Senators must do so to win election,” said Sekulow in a confirmation wrap up report on the ACLJ web site. “Judge Roberts responded by eloquently explaining that judges are not candidates for political office, that they are neutral umpires of the law, and that he would not answer liberal litmus tests in order to win votes.”

Another observer, Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition said it was “frustrating” not to know Roberts’ position on some moral and social issues, including abortion, religious expression in the public square, and the institution of marriage.

He said it was “very troubling,” although he added that most activists were still “solidly behind” the judge. He asked the president that his next nominee for the remaining slot available on the nation’s highest court would be someone “we will not have to guess about.”

"After several days of testimony and questioning it is extremely frustrating to realize that we still do not know the legal position of Judge Roberts on several critical moral and social issues,” Mahoney said. “We do not know where he stands on abortion or religious expression in the public square. We do not know his legal position on the institution of marriage. This is very troubling.”

Christian group Concerned Women for America concurred with Roberts’ statements during the confirmation hearings that nominees should only answer appropriate questions that would not interfere with a judge's ability to give a fair hearing.

“Roberts did not compromise his role as judge by answering questions that could come before the courts," said He instead maintained dignity and credibility by answering only appropriate questions that would not interfere with the position of Chief Justice if he is confirmed."