- The Washington Times - Monday, September 12, 2005


Rob and Paul Schenck, brothers and ministers, were at the head of the public line for yesterday’s Senate hearings on Judge John G. Roberts Jr., hoping for confirmation of their positive feelings about the Supreme Court nominee.

“We like what we see, but we’re waiting to hear some answers,” said Rob Schenck. He and his brother are members of the National Clergy Council, a conservative network of church leaders.

Not far behind them in line was Lauren Sokolski, a liberal activist from Silver Spring whose bag had a “No on Roberts” sticker.

She said she thought Judge Roberts would be confirmed, but still wanted to be present for the hearings.

“I’m just trying to do things to buoy my spirits, to be out there and not be passive,” she said.

The Schenck brothers said they had shown up for the hearings at noon Sunday, Miss Sokolski at 5:30 a.m. yesterday. Officials handed out tickets at one point, so the Schencks said they were able to go to their nearby apartment and change clothes.

Rachel Slomovitz managed to combine a little homework and history by snagging her seat for the hearing.

Miss Slomovitz, a 25-year-old graduate student writing a paper about lobbying for judicial seats, ambled up to the designated queue site for Judge Roberts’ noon confirmation hearing midmorning and was surprised to find no one there but five police officers and three congressional staffers.

The earlier birds — with tickets to hold their spots in line — were taking a break.

Five-hundred members of the public were to rotate through the gilded, pillared, marbled Caucus Room in the Senate’s Russell Office Building, allowed to watch and listen for 30 minutes each before the next group came in. The room has been the setting for famous hearings on everything from the sinking of the Titanic to the Watergate scandal.

Across the street from the hearing site, Judge Roberts’ supporters staged a small rally in support of the prospective justice, wearing green T-shirts and buttons proclaiming “Roberts Rules.” Kerri Houston, who helped organize the rally, said Judge Roberts’ critics had “closed their minds because they believe that personally he’s pro-life.”

Clearly, the stakes had changed since two years ago, when Judge Roberts appeared before the same committee after he was nominated for a seat on the federal Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

Then, Judge Roberts was one of six judges crammed onto the agenda, and he appeared before the senators only as part of a three-witness panel.

This time, he’s the lone attraction, and the hearings were scheduled to last for at least four days.

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