The 18 senators on the Judiciary Committee will ask Roberts questions
and then vote on whether to report the nomination to the full
Senate. A majority vote of the Senate is required to confirm a
committee chairman, 75-year-old Republican Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania,
will control the hearings. Specter, who recently lost his hair
due to treatment for cancer, has said Roberts will likely be confirmed,
but added that there will be questions about recent Supreme Court
rulings overturning laws created by Congress.
"[Supreme Court justices] have taken over a great deal of
Congress' authority in striking down very important legislation
which we enact," he said.
"They have challenged our method of reasoning, and I do
not believe they have any stature to say that our reasoning is
deficient to theirs so that when we select people for the Supreme
Court, I think that the Senate is under a very heavy responsibility
to do our best to have a proper allocation of power among the
branches of government."
His Democratic counterpart, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, says some
of Roberts' writings suggest a radical legal philosophy "intent
on reversing decades of policies on civil rights, voting rights,
women's rights, privacy and access to justice."
"I wanted to make sure he understands there's a lot of discrimination
in the United States today. We have laws that try to redress that
and is he going to be open to the application of those laws?"
The hearings are expected to last several days.
by Brian Wolly for NewsHour Extra