- The Washington Times - Monday, September 12, 2005

Although many predict that federal Judge John G. Roberts Jr. will be comfortably confirmed as the next chief justice of the Supreme Court, today’s hearings will begin amid loud chants from lobbyists on both sides.

Liberal groups plan to gather outside the Senate to oppose the Roberts nomination starting at 5:30 a.m. By 7:30 a.m., nine women calling themselves “Roe Rangers” and donning black robes with gavels will be picketing outside the Supreme Court in support of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 court decision that guaranteed a constitutional right to abortion.

At 10 a.m., Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, will gather with several conservative leaders outside the Russell Senate Office Building for a press conference in favor of Judge Roberts’ confirmation.

And shortly after noon, inside the historic Senate Caucus Room in Russell, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee will begin delivering their opening remarks. It is the same room that hosted hearings on the sinking of the Titanic, Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy’s charges of communist sympathizers and the Watergate break-in.

Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania Republican, will begin the four days of hearings at noon with a 10-minute speech about the significance of the hearings.

“This hearing is uniquely important because, if confirmed, Judge Roberts will become our nation’s highest-ranking judicial officer with the extraordinary opportunity to lead the Supreme Court and guide the administration of justice in America for decades,” according to Mr. Specter’s prepared remarks. “If Judge Roberts were to serve until he becomes 85 — the age of Justice [John Paul] Stevens who is now the senior Supreme Court justice, his tenure would run until the year 2040.”

Mr. Specter also plans to take a sharp slap at the current court.

“The next chief justice will have the potential to change the court’s image, in the eyes of many, as a superlegislature and to bring consensus to the court, which has made a hallmark of 5-4 decisions, many of which are inexplicable,” according to his prepared statement. “Contemporaneous decisions by the court this year, with the shifting 5-4 vote, permit the Ten Commandments to be displayed outdoors in Texas, but not indoors in Kentucky.”

Mr. Specter said he hopes the Roberts confirmation hearings will “expose the extreme positions taken by the Supreme Court in denigrating the role of Congress in our constitutional separation of power.”

The hearings will be broadcast live on C-SPAN 3.

Passes to the event will be distributed on a “first-come, first-serve basis,” committee officials said. They ask that the public gather today at the northeast corner of Delaware Avenue and C Street NE.

Distribution of tickets will begin at 8 a.m.

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