A Guide to the Roberts Hearings ; the Senate Judiciary Committee Opens Hearings Today on John Roberts's Nomination to Be Chief Justice. below Are Descriptions of Key Senators - and the Line of Questioning Each Is Expected to Take
Gail Russell Chaddock and Warren Richey, The Christian Science Monitor
Arlen Specter, chairman (Pennsylvania) Elected: 1980 Years on Judiciary: 24
Attorney and former prosecutor. Independent-minded. Voted against Reagan nominee Robert Bork, alienating conservatives. Grilled Anita Hill during Clarence Thomas hearings, inflaming liberals. Is likely to ask Roberts about "judicial activism" of Rehnquist Court, including decisions to strike down parts of the Violence Against Women Act, which he helped draft. Keeps tight control of the clock.
Quote: "Who are they [judges] to say their method of reasoning is better than ours [Congress's]?"
Orrin Hatch (Utah) Elected: 1976 Years on Judiciary: 28
An attorney. Aims to protect nominees from partisan attack. Will note that nominees should not be prejudging cases or answering questions that might reveal a predisposition to rule a certain way. Maintains cordial relations with Democrats, including liberal icon Edward Kennedy.
Quote: "I've talked extensively with Judge Roberts, and I couldn't be more impressed."
Mike DeWine (Ohio) Elected: 1994 Years on Judiciary: 10
An attorney. Is one of seven Republican senators to oppose the Senate GOP leadership's plan to outlaw filibusters of judicial nominations. Has drawn opposition from conservatives at home for his willingness to work with Democrats. Is up for reelection in 2006.
Quote: "Roberts is a pro at the highest level. He's had 30 cases before the US Supreme Court, and he knows how to handle himself."
Jeff Sessions (Alabama) Elected: 1996 Years on Judiciary: 8
An attorney and prosecutor. Was rejected by the Judiciary Committee for a federal judgeship in 1985. Often uses question periods to counter arguments from the other side of the aisle and to give the nominee a chance to clarify the record.
Quote: "Nominees have often been abused in these hearings and their records misstated. Every nominee should have a fair chance to explain."
Lindsey Graham (South Carolina) Elected: 2002 Years on Judiciary: 2
Was an Air Force prosecutor and is currently a reserve judge on the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals. Played high-profile role in the Clinton impeachment trial. Pushed for investigations of abuses at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Is expected to question Roberts about torture, presidential power, military tribunals, and treatment of enemy combatants. Is a member, along with Senator DeWine, of the so- called Gang of 14, which aimed to avert the need for a change in Senate filibuster rules. Helps make complex legal issues understandable.
Quote: "I want to ask questions average people most want to ask. I'm not here to play gotcha, and my role is not to play cheerleader."
John Cornyn (Texas) Elected: 2002 Years on Judiciary: 2
An attorney and former judge on the Texas Supreme Court. Is only panel member with experience on an appeals court. Has evolved into one-man rapid-response operation, rebutting attacks on Bush's judicial nominees.
Quote: "What we need is a fair hearing for a good man and an up- or-down vote by the end of September."
Sam Brownback (Kansas) Elected: 1996 Years on Judiciary: 4
An attorney. Is an eloquent critic of abortion rights, genetic testing, pornography, and slavery in places like the Sudan. Social conservatives hope he'll ask tough questions on abortion rights. Is a potential presidential candidate in 2008.
Quote: "I am predisposed to support Judge Roberts, but because he has had limited time on the bench, I want to dig a little bit deeper and ask questions about his overall judicial philosophy."
Patrick Leahy (Vermont) Elected: 1974 Years on Judiciary: 26
An attorney and former prosecutor. Worked with White House on USA Patriot Act, but led filibusters against Bush's appeals court nominees. Is expected to insist upon the need to release documents that cover Roberts's years as deputy solicitor general in first Bush administration. …