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Public Statements

Executive Session

Location: Washington, DC




Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, first, I have the distinct privilege of being on the Judiciary Committee. I also have the distinct privilege of serving with three other members on that committee who are nonlawyers so I bring to that committee not a legal background but a citizen background. One of the things I found very refreshing during the hearings was the fact that we have a person in the name of John Roberts who recognizes the role of the judiciary as outlined by our Founders. I will go into that in a minute.

I will address, first, some issues that are important.

We heard today some criticisms of Judge Roberts in sitting and hearing the Hamdan case while he was under consideration for this position. For the record, I show that Justice Ginsburg, during her consideration, decided 24 cases. Justice Breyer decided 15 cases during the period of time he was under consideration. I have the attestation of ethicists who have made statements in support of the fact that Judge Roberts violated no ethical creed and did nothing but his job as an appellate justice while hearing this, and I ask unanimous consent to have them printed in the RECORD.

There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:


Mr. COBURN. I thought it would be important for the American people to hear what our Constitution says about our judges. I also thought it would be important for the American people to hear the oath sworn by a judge.

I have been a Senator for less than a year. When I was campaigning--I also will readily admit I am a pro-life conservative from Oklahoma--but when I was asked during that campaign if I had a litmus test on a Supreme Court nominee, every time I said ``no,'' except one: Integrity. It doesn't matter what position a judge holds. It doesn't matter what their background is. It doesn't matter what their thoughts on any issue are. If they lack integrity, none of the rest of it matters. No one can claim that John Roberts lacks integrity.

During that campaign, I very well explained to the people of Oklahoma that I didn't want a Justice that sided with me. I didn't want a Justice that sided with anybody, except the law and the Constitution.

Here is what article III says about judges:

The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and in inferior Courts, shall hold their offices during good Behavior, [we heard some conversation about foreign law; Judge Roberts passes the bar on his refusal to use foreign law] and shall at stated Times, receive for their Services a Compensation which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.

[Their power] shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, and the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;

It reads in article 6 that:

This Constitution and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof, and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land, and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

The oath John Roberts will take and each Justice before him is as follows:

I do solemnly swear that I will administer justice without respect to persons and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me under the Constitution and the laws of these United States, so help me God.

There are going to be several of my colleagues who will vote against John Roberts. The real reason they will be voting against John Roberts is because he would not give a definite answer on two or three of the social issues today that face us. He is absolutely right not to give a definite answer because that says he prejudges, that he has made up his mind ahead of time. The religious test I spoke about is one of if you don't agree with me and what I believe and if you don't believe there are certain rights to privacy or certain rights that are there that are not spelled out in the Constitution that have become rights, you have set up a religion. The religious test is going to be that if he won't give an answer on those controversial social issues such as abortion today, he will never qualify. Under that religious test, no nominee President Bush will nominate to the Supreme Court will ever get their vote, regardless of whether they are pro-Roe v. Wade or against Roe v. Wade. The fact is, they will not commit.

Therefore, if you can't know or you are suspicious that somebody might take one position or the other ahead of time and you have that as a test, you yourself are violating one of the tests of the Constitution.

I believe John Roberts is a man of quality. Most importantly, he is a man of integrity. I don't want him to rule my way. I want him to rule the right way. The right way is equal justice under the law for all of us. If he does that and if the rest of the Supreme Court starts following him, we will reestablish the confidence that is sometimes lacking in the Court today, and we will also reestablish the balance between the judiciary, executive, and legislative branches.

It is my hope this body will give a vote to John Roberts that he deserves based on his interpretation, knowledge, and honesty with the committee and, fundamentally, with his integrity that is endorsed by the American Bar Association. Everyone who knows him knows he will do just that, equal justice under the law for every American.

I yield the floor.

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