Reid Will Vote Against Roberts

The prepared text of a floor speech by Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid announcing a 'no' vote on the confirmation of John Roberts has been posted at Raw Story. Reid lays out a solid argument against the confirmation, citing Roberts' evasive answers to simple questions during the hearings. Though the media has been falling all over itself to sing Roberts praises because he's smart and seems nice, Reid makes the case that such qualities aren't nearly enough.

Following is a fair bit of the speech, but see Raw Story for the complete version.

There's more...

Complicity Doesn't "Keep Your Powder Dry"

Obviously, the triangle Peter Daou spoke of in his latest article is a long way from being closed:Yesterday Charles Schumer and Dick Durbin attended a fundraiser for the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee.

Schumer polled the room and the overwhelming majority supported voting for Roberts as a way of keeping our powder dry.

You would think that after the war vote democrats would have learned something, but apparently not. Perhaps I am expecting too much, but it seems obvious to me that it is impossible to be complicit with governing Republicans when something passes into law, and then try to gain political traction by "opposing" that something later on. If Democrats are unhappy with, but vote for, a stealth nominee with a miniscule record of actual rulings, who refused to answer any questions during his hearings, and who claims that everything he wrote and did in the past reflected the views of his clients and bosses rather than his own views, then how are they ever going to oppose these characteristics in any nominee in the future? If Democrats vote for Roberts, they will make it clear that they sanction the Bush administration to propose someone for O'Conner's seat who also doesn't have to have an actual record, and who also doesn't have to answer questions. Thus, the only way they could ever actually prevent a slew of new Scalia's is if the nominees are nice enough to tell them that they are going to be like Scalia. I can see the next hearings now:Democratic Senator: Are you going to be like Scalia?

Loved by the Right Nominee: I'm not going to answer that.

Democratic Senator: OK. But could you at least tell me your name? Loved by the Right Nominee: I'm not going to answer that.

Democratic Senator: OK. I'll vote to confirm.

Complicity doesn't keep your powder dry--it deprives you of power entirely. Since 2002, there has been few things more frustrating and empty sounding than Democrats who favored the war going on about how the war was a good idea and we should continue it, but Bush conducted the war badly because he didn't bring in our allies, because our humvees don't have enough armor, because the intelligence was bad, or because firehouses are opening in Baghdad while they are closing in America. Have such statements influenced anyone when they come form people who support the war? Do such statements represent anyone? Consistently, according the trend-lines in the CBS poll currently up at the top of the Iraq section of polling report, only around 5-10% of the population thinks the war was a good idea but disapproves of Bush's handling of the war.

And now we are faced with a caucus that wants to use that same tactic to win over that same 5-10% of the population? I have got news for you fellas--that will not be enough of a swing in popular support to block a future Scalia or Thomas. If you vote for Roberts, you condone the way he didn't answer anything in these hearings, and you condone the way he passed off everything he did in the past as the views of his clients or superiors. Doing this will make it impossible to block any future nominee who either does not already have a long record of rulings, or who does not willing comply with your questions. Of course, since you will also be endorsing a nominee who has a small history of rulings and who did not comply with your questions, well, hard to imagine how that will change either.

So yeah, keep your powder dry. Keep it dry by locking it in a chest and and burying it underground. Forget where you buried it, and sell your only map of its location to James Dobson. Then go on Fox and tell your opponents that you are unarmed and helpless. Don't forget to tell them where you live, and where you hide all your valuables. A vote for Roberts will do just that.

My Final Comment on the Roberts Hearings (For Now)

I have posted around 150 updates on the hearings over the past four days, and this is the final one. As I type, the hearings are winding down, and the focus will shift away from the committee, where we should get a 10-8 vote with all eight Democrats opposed, and to the Senate at large, where the goal is to get 41 Senators to vote "no." That is a number that will make it clear we will not tolerate another stealth candidate who ducks and dodges endlessly. That is a number that will make it clear that we will not tolerate someone in the mold of Rehnquist, Thomas or Scalia in replacing O'Conner. The general right to privacy must be protected. The march of progress must not be reversed. The Congress must be allowed to engage in social investment.

Although everything I wrote during the hearings were my own views rather than those of any organization, I would like to give mad props to People for the American Way. They are fighting the good fight here, and you can continue to take part and stay updated on the fight against Roberts at Save The Court. There are, of course, many other good organizations you can work with on this, including The Alliance for Justice. A wide number of progressive groups have come out in opposition to Roberts, and whether you prefer to work with environmental, civil rights, women's rights, legal, labor, religious or other groups, you can find the campaign that is best for you. There really should be a website that lists all of the organizations that come come out in opposition to Roberts. This Google search, for Stop John Roberts, isn't a bad place to start looking for such groups.

For a complete summary of the witnesses who testified today, visit the Campaign for the Court blog at the Washington Post.

When it comes to the blogs, we did a good job with the Googlebomb, as the dkosopedia entry on John Roberts is now third in a Google search for his name, behind the wiki on John Roberts and the webpage for CBS reporter John Roberts. There was also a lot of good writing on Roberts on some progressive blogs, and I have tried to link to much of it here. Unfortunately, there were also a lot of blogs, including a lot of very highly trafficked progressive blogs, that paid little or no attention to the hearings. To them, I can simply say this: you suck. On the first Supreme Court nomination in the era of the blogs, you completely dropped the ball on the two most important roles blogger help play on a regular basis: helping to shape the national discourse any politics, and agitating the Democratic base into action. Dailykos, where Armando has done some very good work on Roberts, almost single-handedly drove national Katrina coverage. We could have made a real dent into Roberts as well. However, many still felt it wasn't worth their time to discuss, and thus the Republican Noise Machine went pretty much unchallenged on this one. Given that, it is hardly surprising that while Republicans have fallen into line behind Roberts, Democrats remain more divided and undecided than they have been on any issue since the run-up to, and early days of, the war in Iraq. What a joy it is to revisit those dark days where we failed to offer an alternative to conservatism, especially when, like in Iraq, this was one of our best opportunities to show America what progressivism really stands for. This might have been even better than Iraq, because it was a chance to lay out the general progressive philosophy before the nation, rather than just our opinion on a single issue or a set of issues. I just can't believe people decided to take a pass on an opportunity like that..

But enough self-righteous rants against some bloggers on my part. At the very least, I should have done more to try and organize a progressive judicial hearings blog ring as a counter to Confirm Them. Such a ring would be far better suited to deal with important events like these than eiehter myself or a series of disorganized bloggers could ever hope to be. That is an important project for the future.

Anyway, I am going to take a couple of days off and enjoy our nation's capitol for a while. I will be back to blogging on Sunday. Scott and others will continue their great work in the meantime. It looks like we may have suffered a blow here but, as always, we go on and our fight continues. Excelsior!

Roberts Hearings Thread, Day 4, Afternoon

Entire MyDD John Roberts archive.

When you embed John Roberts in a link, use either the John Roberts dkosopedia link or the MyDD John Roberts archive link. Both are rising rapidly in Google.

You can follow the hearings at Pacifica or at C-SPAN.

  • Here are some pictures from the rally. I will egotistically start with a picture of me at the edge of the rally (I'm the guy with the glasses):

    Now, here is a picture of the crowd as a whole:

    The permit for the rally was restricted to a very small area, which is why there are only around 70-80 people here. Traditionally, permits were granted for such rallies in a much, much larger space at the end of the street. Not surprisingly, the Republican majority in the Senate decided to not grant such a permit this time around. They also only granted forty tickets to the hearing itself, and made the application process nearly impossible. That is why you have probably seen so many empty seats in the room when you have seen the hearings on TV.

    Here is a good pictures of the seven speakers at the rally:

    And here they are with a little more energy:

    This was the best sing at the rally—-large and simple:

    And here I am one more time (under the NOW sign):

    More photos can be found here.

  • After the hearings, Senators will submit written questions to John Roberts in twenty-four hours. The committee vote will take place on week from today. Everything I have heard says to expect a pure, 10-8, party-line vote.

  • Although I missed it because I was returning from a rally outside the Hart building, I heard Rep. John Lewis was fantastic. Here's a quote:“He was on the wrong side of history,” testified Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga. “Judge Roberts, as a young attorney in the Reagan administration, failed to go with his gut.”And:Civil rights veteran Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) testified against Roberts, saying that his confirmation would be a setback to civil rights.

    "I feel if Roberts is confirmed the court will no longer hear the peoples' cries for justice.... If the federal courts had abandoned us during the civil rights movement in the name of judicial restraint, we'd still be struggling." Roberts's memos "reveal him to be hostile to civil rights and to the Voting Rights Act."

    The Washington Post's blog on the hearings is the best source for information on what the witneses have been saying.

  • Listening to some of these witnesses is causing a thick, chunky matter to escape from my ears. I mean, we just had a Democratic woman, who mentioned several times that she was a Democratic woman, go up and say that Roberts would protect the right to privacy, while going into about as much detail on what that might mean as Roberts himself did. We did hear, several times, that she was a Demoratic woman. Did I mention that she was a Democratic woman?

  • Check out Howard Dean's Verdict On John Roberts.

  • The Coalition for a Fair and Independent Judiciary has a great new ad up on Roberts. It is called silence:


    Check it out.

  • Since the hearings will end tonight, this will be the final live-blogging thread. I have to say, this live-blogging thing is almost completely different from regular blogging.

Roberts Hearings, Day 4, Morning Thread

Entire MyDD John Roberts archive.

When you embed John Roberts in a link, use either the John Roberts dkosopedia link or the MyDD John Roberts archive link. Both are rising rapidly in Google.

You can follow the hearings at Pacifica or at C-SPAN.

  • That's it for this thread. I'll have more in the afternoon when the hearings become public again. Also, this is definately the last day of the hearings.

  • Rogers Cadenhead on the hearings:conservatives have no more idea than liberals what we're getting for the next 30 years. With a voice as soothing as an NPR host, Roberts has shown that he's expert on constitutional law, quick-witted, and intelligent enough to give the American public absolutely no clue as to his judicial philosophy. (...)

    If the nation no longer expects candor from Supreme Court justices, the Judiciary Committee should adopt the format of What's My Line?, with blindfolded senators asking a series of yes-no questions of the nominee to determine his identity. The winner could receive a federal highway named in his honor and three ethical violations to be named later.

    Good stuff.

  • Coburn's chief of staff: "I'm a radical! I'm a real extremist. I don't want to impeach judges. I want to impale them!" I'm really glad this guy is on the judiciary committee.

  • The dkosopedia entry on John Roberts has nearly reached the top of Google searches for John Roberts now. Good job everyone.

  • Closed session coming up soon.

  • MSNBC's hearings blog sums up the political calculus at play:Could Schumer vote “yes” on Roberts?

    In theory, yes.

    But it would seem to create a conflict of interest: Schumer is head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the whole purpose of which is to elect Democratic senators who could vote down President Bush’s conservative judicial nominees who in Schumer’s view are “way off the deep end.”

    Would it not have a demoralizing effect on Democratic donors if Schumer were to vote for this most high-profile of Bush’s conservative judicial nominees?

    As Ralph Neas of the liberal group People for the American Way noted yesterday, the vote on Roberts is “an opportunity to have an issue for the 2006 and 2008 elections.”

    Neas added that if Democrats vote for Roberts, “they’d be complicit in being part of an effort to turn back the clock on privacy, on civil rights, on the environment.”

    Likewise on the other side of the ledger, it would be politically difficult for a Republican senator to vote “no” on Roberts, especially at a time when Bush needs a morale-boosting win.

    That sounds pretty accurate to me.

  • Durbin, in so many words, calls Roberts an empty vessel and a hired gun. Of course, in so many words, Roberts just called himself that.

  • Roberts goes on to list the many ways that he has in fact been an empty vessel, a hired gun who has repeatedly taken both sides of many issues depending on who came in the door first. He says that what he was doing was best trying to uphold the rule of law, and making sure every side has a well-defended argument. Says upholding the rule of law is why he became a lawyer.

  • Under questioning from Durbin, Roberts says that he would probably have taken a case for the state of Colorado that massively restricted GLBT rights. Is he such an empty vessel that he would take any case offered to him? Would he ever draw a line? Durbin asks him as much.

  • He'd never answer it, but if Roberts agrees that ideolouges should not be on the Court, I wonder what he thinks of Scalia.

  • Schumer finally, at long last, brings up the SG documents that have been withheld.

  • From SCOTUS blog (emphasis mine):Feingold asks about memos arguing against a broad view of habeas and saying that the Court is too involved in death penalty cases. Roberts doesn't dispute that his writings represented his own views, but says that the law has changed greatly, both in terms of the S. Ct.'s rulings and Congress' amendment of the habeas laws. It certainly is convenient that his memos represent his own views when the vies are popular. When they are unpopular or troubling, thye represent the views of his boss.

  • Perhaps the best reason I have seen yet to oppose Roberts from the Center for Individual Freedom:“Should the Democrats vote in a partisan block against Judge Roberts, they will put politics first yet again. They should know better. Judicial selection shouldn’t be about scoring political points. When they are giving us advice, I ususally figure its best to do the opposite.

  • According to the same CBS poll, one thing the country does not buy, however, is the Republican line that dodgeball is perfectly acceptable:"When the Senate votes on a Supreme Court nominee, should it consider only that person's legal qualifications and background, or along with legal background, should the Senate also consider how that nominee might vote on major issues the Supreme Court decides?"
    Legal Only    Issues Too    Unsure
       36             54          10
    Hopefully we made enough progress during these hearings that this will become a major issue next time.

  • A new poll from CBS shows that the vast majority of the country doesn't know what they would do on Roberts:"What do you think right now? Should the Senate vote to confirm John Roberts as chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, or vote against John Roberts, or can't you say?"
            Confirm    Against   Can't Say    Unsure
    All       26          8         63          3
    Reps      51          2         46          1
    Dems      13         14         70          3
    Inds      21          7         68          4
    The think the basic difference between these CBS polls, which have always shown a hug number of undecideds, and other polls that show far lower numbers of undecideds, is that they actually offer "can't say" as an option in the question. This says to me that the vast majority of the country remains undecided about Roberts, but when pushed to give an answer, by about a 2-1 margin people are willing to give him the bebefit of the doubt.

    I am also amazed at how on yet another issue Republicans display virtually no dissent from the party line.

  • Under questioning from Feinstein, Roberts continues to take a beating on issues relating to education and Latinos. Aside from his dodgeball, this is probably the biggest bloody nose he has sustained in the hearings. Makes me wonder if this will ratchet up the presure on Bush to nominate a Latino for O'Conner's seat.

  • Considering the rumors that all seven Dems in the Gang of 14 are going to vote for Roberts, I can't help but bring up a dare of my own. I have noticed a slow decline in preference for Hillary Clinton in the straw polls here at MyDD over the last three months. In the IRV polls, she has dropped from 11.8% in July, 8.9% in August, and 7.6% in September (all at equal rounds). In the September main-page poll, she finished fifth out of eight candidates, after typically challenging for second place. So I dare her to vote for Roberts, and then see hwo much further her online support drops.

  • Kennedy is up now, and once again he is focusing on civil rights. On a panel of seventeen white guys, he really has done an admirable job of spending his entire time questioning focusing on civil rights.

  • In light of my previous comment, I think we should revist Paul Rosenberg's excellent diary Roberts Nomination--An Historic Aberration, where he point out that Roberts is the biggest stealth nominee for Chief Justice of all-time. Every other nominee in history had a far more established record as a public or judicial figure. We knew what we were getting then--we don't really know now.

  • I mostly agree with Armando:Judge John Roberts should not be confirmed to be the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Certainly no one would argue that Mr. Roberts' intellect or professional qualifications are lacking. There is no question that he is more than capable in these areas. Nor do we have evidence of a character flaw that would disqualify him. Nor has Roberts said anything during his confirmation hearings that would disqualify him from the position.

    The problem is Roberts has not said enough that proves him worthy of the position at this time in history. Roberts has said no more about his judicial philosophy, his decisionmaking process and how he sees the issues than did Clarence Thomas. Indeed, there are eerily striking similarities between the answers given by now-Justice Thomas during his confirmation hearings and those given by Judge Roberts the past two days. And he clearly intends to go no further in providing answers on these questions. The bottom line is, on the record before us there is no reason to discount the possiility that a Justice Roberts will be a carbon copy of a Justice Thomas. And that is simply unacceptable.

    The place where I disagree with Armando is on the notion that Roberts is qualified. Considering the Kabuki nature of these hearings, and really most Supreme Court hearings, I can no longer consider someone without a substantial record of actual rulings from the bench qualified for the Supreme Court. There simply seems to be no way to extract answers from those who do not wish to give them in these hearings. Thus, the only way to know what you are getting is if the nominee, like Ginsberg, has already been a judge for a good deal of time. Democrats need to make a point of hammering this if Bush puts up another stealth nominee for O'Conner's seat.


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