Floor Statement of Senator Elizabeth Dole on the Confirmation of Judge John Roberts

On the Confirmation of Judge John Roberts
by Elizabeth Dole

Delivered on 29 September 2005.

Mr. President, Judge John Roberts is indeed an outstanding choice to be the 17th Chief Justice of the United States. He is one of our nation’s top legal minds, and as the American public has learned, he is a man of great intelligence and skill who will serve our country with the same integrity that has been the hallmark of his professional career.

In fact, it is hard to think of anyone who is more qualified to lead this nation’s High Court. Soon after graduating magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, where he was managing editor of the Harvard Law Review. Roberts clerked for then-Associate Justice Rehnquist – a man whom he deeply admired. He worked in various legal capacities in the Reagan Administration and later entered private practice. Just two years ago, the Senate confirmed John Roberts for a seat on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

In his distinguished career, including his tenure as a government lawyer, John Roberts has argued a remarkable 39 cases before the Supreme Court. The issues at the heart of these cases have spanned the legal spectrum – from healthcare law to Indian law, environmental law to labor law, and many, many other areas of the law as well.

In his Senate confirmation hearings last week, John Roberts reinforced that he will be the kind of Chief Justice America needs and deserves. Undergoing hours upon hours of questioning, Judge Roberts maintained a steady, even temperament. He politely and respectfully answered more than 500 questions – and amazingly without much of a glance at notes. Most importantly, Judge Roberts revealed a great deal about how he views the judicial role. He emphasized that he is committed to the rule of law, not to his personal preferences or views. He emphasized his belief that judges are not politicians or legislators and that the role of a judge is limited. I wholeheartedly agree with Judge Roberts’ assessment of the appropriate role of judges, and I am confident that he will strictly uphold the law and not attempt to legislate his own personal views from the bench.

I can think of no vote more important, save a declaration of war, than giving advice and consent to a nominee for Chief Justice of the United States. This has been a fair process, and the Judiciary Committee held extensive and meaningful hearings. Over the course of the last week, the Senate has conducted a spirited debate on the qualifications of John Roberts to be the next Chief Justice. And today, we will give him an up or down vote.

I am very pleased that my colleagues have proceeded expeditiously on the nomination of Judge Roberts, as it is of utmost importance that this nation’s High Court have a new Chief Justice before the start of the court’s fall term.

For many in this chamber, today’s vote will be the only time in their entire Senate careers that they provide advice and consent on a nominee to be Chief Justice. I commend my colleagues who have risen above the normal day-to-day politics of this institution. But still, there are some of you who question how Judge Roberts will vote on specific cases in the future. Others of you may also be swayed by the passions of partisans.

But none have questioned Judge Robert’s integrity. None have questioned his temperament. None have questioned his intellectual ability. And none have questioned his qualifications. These are the traditional measures the Senate has looked to when evaluating a judicial nomination of this importance. I would ask that my fellow Senators look to these time-tested standards and vote to confirm John Roberts as Chief Justice of the United States.