Thursday, September 15, 2005

That's quite enough, Senator.

So all I can hear on the Internet news radio is live coverage and commentary on Judge John Roberts' testimony before a throng of self-important senators who are more interested in hearing themselves speak to their knowledge of U.S. legal history than in making any actual progress toward an approval or disapproval of Roberts' confirmation.

I'd leave it at that if it hadn't been for a senator from the "Great State of Alabama" (Yes, that was sarcasm -- Editor) who yammered on and on about decisions made in the courts regarding his state. Honestly, I can't actually remember who this senator was, but he would drawl interminably over obscure and ancient legal battles he'd witnessed or been a part of, and eventually tack on some kind of half-question at the end of each soliloquy. Roberts answered each question -- such as it was -- as best he could.

This confirmation hearing, to me, belies more about the general ignorance of the American judiciary than anything about Roberts' past. The fact that questions about personal opinion are being put to a man who has been a judge for years seems like a colossal waste of time and oxygen, considering the fact that a judge's job is not to form an independent and personal opinion, but to consider each side in a given case based on the merits of the argument presented by the side's representative. Judges are qualified based on their ability to make these judgements based on the law and the evidence presented to them by each side.

Roberts has said, and rightly, that he will refuse to answer any question that could compromise his appearance of impartiality, and that unlike the politicians who are so shrewdly asking him these pointed queries, he is unable to make empty promises. Roberts is not nominated for a representative position -- he's nominated to be an arbiter in the federal government's highest court. I'd say his refusal to answer inane questions about his opinions on this or that matter is probably a better qualification for the job than any answer he might give to paranoid democratic senators.

At this point, I'd be much happier if everyone would drop this issue and just let us know how it turns out. But sadly, there is more to come, and even if Roberts is confirmed as the late Chief Justice William Rheinquist's replacement, we still have to find someone to fill the departing Sandra Day O'Connor. Won't that be fun.


UPDATE: Open Post at Mudville Gazette.
UPDATE: Buddy Jan Korda informs me that the senator in question was Sen. Jeff Sessions (R, Ala.).
UPDATE: This satire at the New York Times is hilarious. Subscription is probably required, but I don't care.
UPDATE the FOURTH: Wonkette gives me a chance to write a funny headline: "Senator Durbin protects trashy whore."