John Roberts’s nomination for chief justice of the United States was accepted by a vote of 13-5 Thursday. All 10 republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted for Roberts, while three out of eight democrats joined the republican majority.
Ranking member, Sen. Patrick Leahy (VT), Sen. Herbert Kohl (WI), and Russell Feingold (WI) were the three democrats that voted for Roberts, going against the grain of some of their fellow democrats such as Sen. Edward Kennedy (MA) and Charles Schumer (NY).
Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), Judiciary Committee Chair, supported Roberts with his vote. Although he was dissatisfied on some of his refusals to answers questions, Specter says that Roberts has “potential for bringing the court together” and “a real sense for building a consensus.”
Sen. Kennedy, who did not vote for Roberts, said that Roberts’s stance on civil rights issues is still unclear.
"Nominees must earn their confirmation by providing us with full knowledge of their values and convictions they’ll bring to decisions that may profoundly affect our progress as a nation toward the ideal of equality," as reported by the washingtonpost.com.
“We are left asking, ‘Who is Judge Roberts?’,” said Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), who found correlations between Justice Clarence Thomas hearings and Roberts’s hearings. He said that both Justice Thomas and Roberts stated they have “no agenda” and that some of their rulings and opinions are very similar.
“We were in a bitter game of blind man’s bluff,” said Schumer who voted against Roberts.
There are no complaints coming from the White House about the confirmation and they seem to be satisfied about how smoothly the process went.
“I think we all recognize here in Washington sometimes things tend to get down into the bitter, partisan debates … There are a lot of media reports talking about how there’s going to be a very contentious hearing for the next nominee. The President hasn’t even made a decision on who will be his nominee for the vacancy on the Supreme Court.,” said Scott McClellan, White House spokesman.
He described the Judiciary committees’ hearing as “civil” and “dignified” at a press briefing Thursday.
The nomination will now face the full senate next week and it is expected that President Bush will announce his nomination for a justice that will take Sandra Day O’Connor’s empty seat.