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September 14, 2005

Only death penalty barking at Roberts hearings

Though my prediction that sentencing issues would not take center stage during the Roberts' confirmation hearings was, as noted here, largely accurate on Tuesday, it appears that Senators Leahy and Feingold on Wednesday both brought up the death penalty, and specifically wrongful executions, in their questions.  Once I have a chance to review the transcript, I hope to comment more on the specifics of these interchanges.

Here, however, I must comment upon, and lament again, the notable and telling failure of the Senate Judiciary Committee to give serious attention to a range of important criminal justice issues.  A sizeable portion of the Supreme Court's docket involves criminal cases: according to this informative Goldstein & Howe summary of the October 2004 term, 35 of the Supreme Court's 80 dispositions were criminal cases (and some of the 17 dispositions involving civil rights, such as Cutter and Johnson v. California, were also criminal-justice related). 

Moreover, because Judge Roberts has barely any paper record in this area, it would seem especially important for Senators to explore Judge Roberts' basic approach and philosophy on a broad range of criminal justice topics.  But apparently, Senator Schumer and the other Senators decided it was more important to find out what kind of movies Judge Roberts enjoys: see 4:10 entry at the SCOTUSblog's live blog of the hearings.  [UPDATE:  I have now read the transcript, and the Schumer movie riff was an effort to accuse Judge Roberts of not being forthcoming in his answers.  And, I will add that, if Judge Roberts had said he enjoys movies with good acting, that might take him out of the mainstream as gauged by box office returns.]

FURTHER UPDATE: I have now read the transcript to discover that the questions raised by Senators Leahy and Feingold on the death penalty focused specifically on the Herrera case and were rather uninspiring.  Indeed, the most significant aspect of the exchanges seemed to be Judge Roberts' statement to Senator Leahy that the Supreme Court could expanded it docket because he thinks "the capability to address more issues is there in the court."

September 14, 2005 at 05:46 PM | Permalink


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Tracked on Sep 14, 2005 6:46:32 PM


Im just a normal person. My question is one I have longed to see any reporter put to the clergy of any so called christian religion: Where in the new testament does Jesus say what the exceptions are for killing another human? I dont understand how a person can call themselves a "christian" when they agree with killing of a human for any reason, war, self-defense, death penalty. I also think its ironic that a courthouse in Texas has the 10 commandments pedestal, and that courthouse fosters the death penalty, in direct contradiction of the 5th commandment, 'Thou shalt not kill".

Posted by: richard gutmann | Oct 4, 2005 11:03:49 AM

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