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Summary of the Roberts Hearings:
Tom Goldstein offers a play-by-play here.
42USC1983 (mail):
Other than Roberts' opening remarks, here's my one-word summary: Booooooring. It was like sitting through a bad college lecture - not boring because it was difficult or technical, boring because poor public speakers went on and on with their platitudes. Senator Kuhl (I think) best described the proceedings: "Everything has been said, but not everyone has said it. [Therefore, there will much more droning to follow.]"
9.12.2005 4:55pm
a:
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9.12.2005 5:00pm
Michael L (mail):
I loved Schumer's awkward metaphors. He referred to something that I didn't entirely catch, but which "...founders in the shallow waters of extremist ideology..." Why are the waters of extremist ideology shallow? Because ideologues are shallow people? Because they never sail too far from the shores of intolerance? Because they cynically ufurl the jib of hatred? Are deep waters analagous to moderate ideology?
9.12.2005 5:25pm
Shelby (mail):
Michael: Thank you. That was beautiful.
9.12.2005 5:50pm
SimonD:
"...founders in the shallow waters of extremist ideology..." Why are the waters of extremist ideology shallow?
Cf. George Carlin: "The reason the mainstream is thought of as a stream is because it's so shallow."

I felt very sorry for Roberts having to sit through a bunch of bloviating Senators playing to the TV cameras for their re-election. On the plus side, an elevated heart rate is supposed to be good for the health, and anger sure does increase the heart rate. And there's nothing that's more sure to get an originalist angry than someone giving Joe Biden a microphone. Can't someone beat this guy in a primary already? I swear, I will give real money to anyone who will try.
9.12.2005 5:56pm
Cheburashka (mail):
OK, how much are you offering? I'd have to move, but I think I can take 'em.
9.12.2005 7:09pm
just me:
I wish that some nominee would tell Biden that "I was the first in my family to go to law school . . ." and paraphrase the rest of that fine Kinnock/Biden speech.

I also want the camera to pan over to Kennedy whenever someone mentions shallow or deep water.
9.12.2005 7:17pm
myalterego (mail):
I watched the entire hearings, and here is how I'd summarize most of it:

Republican Senator: "Judge Roberts, in order to maintain your independence and impartiality in the future, you must avoid answering questions about how you would rule in a given case. This is the precedent set by Justice Ginsburg."

Democratic Senator: "Judge Roberts, in order for us to adequately determine whether you should be confirmed, you must answer questions in a way that lets us figure out how you will rule in a given case. This is the precedent set by Justice Ginsburg."

Lather, rinse, repeat 18 times!
9.12.2005 7:25pm
Pete Freans (mail):
Kennedy, Schumer, Biden...I think I need to pop another TUMS tablet. I thought the entire Robert's clan behind the Judge was a nice touch.
9.12.2005 7:28pm
myalterego (mail):
Defending Biden...

OK, I'll give you the fact that Sens. Kennedy and Schumer can get a bit shrill, but Senator Biden actually made some very cogent points at the hearing today. He clearly stated a reasonable view of the constitution, particularly with regard to commerce clause and due process concerns. He didn't specifically mention the Commerce Clause or Due Process Clause, though those were key points he was making. Presumably those people deriding Sen. Biden are originalists, but to dismiss his view of the constitution as wrong without a critical look at his comments is foolhardy. Sen. Biden was rightfully challenging originalism as the only, or even the best, means of interpreting the Constitution. Originalism isn't the only means of interpreting the constitution, and pretending that it is ignores much of the intellectual debate.

And don't pretend that Republican senators didn't say some pretty foolish things. Senator Coburn lamented the divisiveness and partisanship in the Senate today, but it was less than a year ago when he ran a very nasty and divisive campaign in Oklahoma (E.g. Coburn: "lesbianism is so rampant in some of the schools in southeast Oklahoma that they'll only let one girl go to the bathroom. Now think about it. Think about that issue. How is it that that's happened to us?"). Also, as I pointed out in a comment to a previous post (http://www.volokh.com/posts/1126499222.shtml), Senator Graham essentially said that the Senate should defer to the President, a suggestion that I express my opposition to in that comment thread.
9.12.2005 7:40pm
Brett Bellmore (mail):

Originalism isn't the only means of interpreting the constitution


And using the combination isn't the only way of opening a safe, either, as many safecrackers have demonstrated. It's merely the only legitimate means.
9.12.2005 7:51pm
myalterego (mail):

And using the combination isn't the only way of opening a safe, either, as many safecrackers have demonstrated. It's merely the only legitimate means.


Is that only because you say so?

And what sort of originalism would you suggest we use? Should we consider only how the framers understood the words of the constitution to mean at the founding? Or should we consider how the framers would apply the language of the constitution if they were here today facing our issues? The answer is not always the same between those two.

What does Equal Protection mean? What about the Fourteenth Amendment more generally? It was passed (in part) as a means of constitutionalizing the Civil Rights Act of 1866 (which had been speciously passed pursuant to the Thirteenth Amendment). Yet the language of the 14th is much broader than the language of the Civil Rights Act. Does that mean the framers of the Fourteenth Amendment intended for it to be read more broadly to encompass political and civil rights like voting and jury service? Does your version of originalism also allow for the abolition of stare decisis unless a decision comports with your view of a legitimate originalist decision? These are just a sample of the questions that remain open following an ipse dixit assertion of originalism as the only legitimate means of constitutional interpretation.
9.12.2005 8:06pm
Shelby (mail):
Who needs a Con Law classroom discussion when you've got a blog?
9.12.2005 9:17pm