Monday, September 12, 2005

Let the show begin

The much awaited John Roberts hearings are set to begin today:

WASHINGTON — John G. Roberts on Monday will be peppered by the Senate Judiciary Committee with questions on everything from abortion, separation of church and state, civil rights and the death penalty.

But barring any surprises, most on Capitol Hill expect the 50-year-old will ultimately win confirmation to be the nation's 17th chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

The proceedings, which begin on Monday at noon in the same Senate hearing room in which the Watergate hearings took place, will delve into all facets of Roberts' judicial and legal background. The hearings are expected to last four to five days.

Although the official word is that the nomination will sail through, don't be surprised if the process hits a few snags. Close attention will be paid to the wording of his answers, particularly on the issue of non-enumerated rights. As specified in the 9th amendment: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people". A controversial interpretation of this clause played a pivotal role in the Supreme Court's determination of a "right to privacy" in the Roe v. Wade decision.

Basically, if Roberts is able to handle this issue with diplomacy, he gets confirmed. But if he makes even one slip, rest assured that a public Borking will soon follow -- and it won't be pretty.

The hearings are scheduled to kick-off at noon EDT. However...

Hearings will begin with opening statements from all 18 members of the committee; each statement will be as long as 10 minutes. Roberts will then introduced in three five-minute speeches. After three hours and 15 minutes of speechifying, Roberts will finally deliver his opening statement.

In other words, set your TIVO for about 3:15 pm.

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