- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Several Senate Democrats who support the nomination of federal Judge John G. Roberts Jr. rebuked their colleagues this week over opposing the nominee based on partisan politics.

Sen. Ron Wyden, Oregon Democrat, who supports President Bush’s nominee for Supreme Court chief justice, said fellow Democrats should not base their votes on the nominee’s perceived political beliefs.

“I ask my friends to imagine the mess we will have left for our country if the Senate uses this test and votes solely on the basis of a nominee’s political beliefs,” he said yesterday in a speech on the Senate floor. “Friends who a year ago said we don’t want ideologues appointed to the Supreme Court now want Judge Roberts and the next nominee to show up at the witness table and submit to an ideological litmus test.”

Judge Roberts is expected to be confirmed before noon today with the bipartisan support of at least 76 senators.

Earlier this week, Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut Democrat who supports the nomination, also lamented the “excessively partisan” atmosphere.

“In these partisan times, it is worth remembering that seven of the nine sitting justices were confirmed by overwhelmingly bipartisan votes in the Senate,” he said.

Mr. Wyden noted yesterday that “in spite of the divisive national debate surrounding gays in the military, universal health care, Travelgate, Filegate and the Whitewater investigation,” President Clinton named two Supreme Court nominees who were overwhelmingly approved.

Judge Roberts has been almost universally hailed as a brilliant jurist, but many Democrats — under pressure from outside interest groups — oppose him because he did not state more clearly his personal views on contentious political issues such as abortion.

Mr. Wyden warned that a “sword forged in ideology” today will be used against the next Democratic president to fill a Supreme Court vacancy.

“If these debates are purely partisan, our future will include constitutional bedlam whenever a Supreme Court vacancy occurs when the Senate is controlled by the opposition party,” he said. “The decision that each senator has to make should be based on the judicial nominee before the Senate, not the one that we wish was before us.”

Mr. Lieberman said the decision is made more difficult by the partisan fighting.

“That makes it even more important that we stretch to decide it correctly and without partisan calculation, whichever side we come down on,” he said. “Judge Roberts, after all, has been nominated to be chief justice of the highest court of the greatest country in the world, and our decision on whether to confirm him should be a decision made above partisanship.”

In addition to Mr. Wyden, Democrat Sens. Thomas R. Carper of Delaware, Patty Murray of Washington and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas also announced yesterday their support for the Roberts nomination.

Democratic Sens. Paul S. Sarbanes of Maryland, Tom Harkin of Iowa and Maria Cantwell of Washington all said they will vote against Judge Roberts.

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