Roberts Confirmation Hearings

Confirmation hearings for Judge John Roberts began today. Below is an excerpt from Senator Biden’s opening statement:

Judge Roberts, welcome.

Judge, as you know, there is a genuine intellectual struggle going on in our country over whether our Constitution will continue to protect our privacy and continue to empower the federal government to protect the powerless.

For 70 years, there has been a consensus in our Supreme Court on these issues. And this consensus has been fully embraced by the American people.

But there are those who strongly disagree with this consensus — and they seek to unravel it. And, Judge, you have the unenviable position of being right in the middle of this fundamentally important debate.

And, quite frankly, we need to know on which side you stand. For whoever replaces Chief Justice Rehnquist, as well as Justice O’Connor, will play pivotal roles in this debate.

But for tens of millions of our people this is more than an academic debate.

For the position you take in this debate will affect their lives in very real and personal ways — for the next three decades. There is nothing they can do about it after this moment.

I believe in a Constitution — as our Supreme Court’s first great Chief Justice, John Marshall, said in 1819 — and I quote “intended to endure for ages to come, and consequently to be adapted to the various crises of human affairs.”

At its core, the Constitution envisions ever increasing protections of human liberty and dignity for its citizens and a national government empowered to face unanticipated “crises.”

Judge, herein lies the crux of the intellectual debate I referenced at the outset — whether we will have ever increasing protections for human liberty and dignity or whether those protections will be diminished.

Read the full statement here.

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