The last place I want to be is at the dentist; until I witnessed 18 senators (21 if you count those who "introduced" John Roberts at his Supreme Court confirmation hearing) posture for the cameras and special interest groups. The dentist is looking better. At least he has painkillers. There is nothing to dull the pain of pontificating senators.
Roberts demonstrated more class, integrity and legal knowledge than most of his interrogators. The most laughable performance (as of Tuesday) was by Sen. Joseph Biden, Delaware Democrat. After spending about eight minutes making statements and not asking a question, Biden accused Judge Roberts of "filibustering" in his answer to one of the questions Biden eventually asked.
Biden's body language, his arrogant and condescending attitude and his use of the vernacular ("I hope you don't still hold that view, man" and "Hey, Judge, how are ya?") was improper and ill-mannered. Worse, though, was Biden's amnesia.
Biden tried to make political hay out of a memo a young John Roberts wrote on Dec. 11, 1981, in which he referred to a "so-called right to privacy." Three months after Roberts wrote his memo, Biden voted in favor of the Hatch Amendment which, among other things, sought to declare that the Constitution does not secure a right to abortion. By voting for an amendment whose purpose was essentially to obliterate the "so-called right to privacy," Biden aligned himself with Roberts' thinking.
These hearings are an excellent classroom on contrasting views of the U.S. Constitution. One view, held mostly by Democrats, says the Constitution is open to the interpretation of judges to advance a social and cultural agenda that advocates of such policies know they do not have a voluntary prayer of getting through Congress. These include, but are not limited to, abortion and "gay rights." The other side believes judges, as Judge Roberts put it, are like umpires, because "they don't make the rules." They are, he said, "servants of the law, not the other way around."
That's bad news for the left, which for four decades has counted on the Supreme Court to pay lip service to the Constitution while running roughshod over the document. Roberts effectively told the senators that making law is their job and interpreting those laws in light of what the Founders had in mind when they wrote the Constitution is the job of judges. On several occasions, Roberts used the word "limited" when referring to the role of judges and courts.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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