An excerpt of John Roberts’ opening statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee today:
My personal appreciation that I owe a great debt to others reinforces my view that a certain humility should characterize the judicial role.
Judges and justices are servants of the law, not the other way around. Judges are like umpires. Umpires don’t make the rules; they apply them.
The role of an umpire and a judge is critical. They make sure everybody plays by the rules.
But it is a limited role. Nobody ever went to a ball game to see the umpire.
Judges have to have the humility to recognize that they operate within a system of precedent, shaped by other judges equally striving to live up to the judicial oath.
And judges have to have the modesty to be open in the decisional process to the considered views of their colleagues on the bench.
Mr. Chairman, when I worked in the Department of Justice, in the office of the solicitor general, it was my job to argue cases for the United States before the Supreme court.
I always found it very moving to stand before the justices and say, “I speak for my country.”
But it was after I left the department and began arguing cases against the United States that I fully appreciated the importance of the Supreme Court and our constitutional system.
Here was the United States, the most powerful entity in the world, aligned against my client. And yet, all I had to do was convince the court that I was right on the law and the government was wrong and all that power and might would recede in deference to the rule of law.
That is a remarkable thing.
It is what we mean when we say that we are a government of laws and not of men. It is that rule of law that protects the rights and liberties of all Americans. It is the envy of the world. Because without the rule of law, any rights are meaningless.
President Ronald Reagan used to speak of the Soviet constitution, and he noted that it purported to grant wonderful rights of all sorts to people. But those rights were empty promises, because that system did not have an independent judiciary to uphold the rule of law and enforce those rights. We do, because of the wisdom of our founders and the sacrifices of our heroes over the generations to make their vision a reality.
Mr. Chairman, I come before the committee with no agenda. I have no platform. Judges are not politicians who can promise to do certain things in exchange for votes.
I have no agenda, but I do have a commitment. If I am confirmed, I will confront every case with an open mind. I will fully and fairly analyze the legal arguments that are presented. I will be open to the considered views of my colleagues on the bench. And I will decide every case based on the record, according to the rule of law, without fear or favor, to the best of my ability. And I will remember that it’s my job to call balls and strikes and not to pitch or bat.
What Senator is going to oppose him after that statement? I expect a fairly quick confirmation, after he is roughed up a little by the bullies of the Judiciary Committee, Pat Leahy, Chuck Schumer, Ted Kennedy, Dick Durbin, etc. They will all take a swing just to look good to their party, but he will be confirmed.