We often say that living in Washington is like the Bill Murray movie “Groundhog Day” in that it’s the same day over and over. The flip side of that is that this appears at times to be a city bereft of institutional memory. For us, we are Bill Murray’s “Phil Connors“. Every day is fresh, every day begins anew.
And so it is with the brewing fight over the nomination of Judge John Roberts to the Supreme Court. Can we even find Memory Lane so as to stroll down it? Let’s see, here’s Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s confirmation in 1993, one of the last two members to join the Court. It’s fair to ask what kind of maelstrom she encountered after she was nominated by Bill Clinton to a Senate controlled by his party, the Democrats. Glad you asked:
— Her hearing lasted a total of 4 days;
— She wasn’t required to discuss her legal views on a host of social issues;
— Then Judiciary Committee Chair Joe Biden (D-DE) warned fellow Senators not to ask questions about “how she will decide any specific case that may come before her.”
— When asked specific questions during her hearing, she replied politely, “I prefer not to address a question like that” or “I would prefer to await a particular case.”
She was confirmed by a vote of 96-3.
Wouldn’t it seem only fair to conduct Judge John Roberts’ confirmation hearings in the same manner? What has changed between 1993 and today?
As you know, we were the first business group to endorse Judge Roberts and did so according to a set of criteria laid out for all to see. It isn’t results- or outcomes-based. We think he’s smart, has an appreciation for the judiciary’s effect on business and will apply the law as written.
Only 42 days passed between Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s nomination and confirmation by the Senate. For John Roberts, it’s been about 32 days thus far.
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