The Dartmouth Observer
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
The Roberts Hearings
I'll be posting my thoughts and reactions to the Roberts hearings as I read the transcripts. Right now I'm in the intial stages of said hearings where Arlen Specter (R-PA(?)) is questions Judge Roberts on state decisis and precendent. Senator Specter is particularly interested in whether Judge Roberts agrees with the following claim:
SPECTER: With respect to going back again to the import of Roe and the passage of time, Supreme Court Chief Justice Rehnquist changed his views on Miranda. In the 1974 case, Michigan v. Tucker, which I'm sure you're familiar with, he did not apply Miranda -- without going into the technical reason there. But the issue came back to the court in U.S. v. Dickerson in the year 2000. And the chief justice decided that Miranda should be upheld, and he used this language: that it became, quote, so embedded in routine police practice to the point where the warnings have become a part of our national culture, close quote. Do you think that that kind of a principle would be applicable to a woman's right to choose as embodied in Roe v. Wade?Roberts really decided not the answer the question with the following dodge: "Well, I think that gets to the application of the principles in a particular case. And based on my review of the prior transcripts of every nominee sitting on the court today, that's where they've generally declined to answer: when it gets to the application of legal principles to particular cases." Thanks, John, for that little gem. Everyone before has obfuscated and equivocated, so why don't you?
That dodge is followed by another classic Roberts line a few moments later:
SPECTER: Let me move to two more points before my time is about to expire in two minutes and 35 seconds. There's a continuing debate on whether the Constitution is a living thing. And as you see Chief Justice Rehnquist shift his views on Miranda, it suggests that he would agree with Justice John Marshall Harlan's dissent in Poe, where he discusses the constitutional concept of liberty and says, quote, The traditions from which it developed, that tradition is a living thing. Would you agree with that?The question was about the Constitution being living, but thank you for narrowing your response.
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT?) amazingly asks Roberts some very tough questions and just grills Roberts.
LEAHY: In his book, All the Laws But One, Chief Justice Rehnquist, the late chief justice, concluded with this sentence, The laws will not be silent in time of war but they'll speak with a somewhat different voice.Wow.