Statement from Rabbi David Saperstein Regarding Message of Justice Sunday II
Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, today issued a statement via teleconference regarding the upcoming confirmation process of Judge Roberts, noting "Members of the Senate must engage in a serious, thorough confirmation process."
August 11, 2005
Members of the Senate must engage in a serious, thorough confirmation process.
In a July 20 statement the Family Research Council said, “Judge Roberts now embarks on a confirmation process that should be fair, thorough and swift. He is entitled to an up or down vote, and the American people are entitled to have a full complement of nine justices ready to work when the Supreme Court convenes for its fall session on October 3, 2005.”
The FRC gets it wrong on a number of accounts. First, Justice O’Connor’s announced retirement, by her own choice, commences only upon the confirmation of her replacement. Simply: we are not in a rush.
Second, nor should we be. A Supreme Court nominee is being considered for a lifetime appointment to our highest court. The process should not be unnecessarily drawn out, but must allow sufficient time for Senators to fulfill their constitutionally obligated role of “advise and consent.” Such a process will best serve both the Supreme Court and the American people. What we are fearful of, is that the drive for swiftness will overwhelm the goals of fairness and thoroughness.
Third, the American people understand that they have sent their Senators to Washington to act on their behalf, representing their interests and making sure that their voices are heard. But Americans aren’t simply letting Senators pose the important questions to Judge Roberts – they’re asking those questions themselves. Thousands of Americans have called their Senators and the Senate leadership with questions and concerns that they need answered during the upcoming hearings. They’re using the internet, including sites like the Religious Action Center’s “Ask Judge Roberts” campaign, that enables people to send questions that they hope be addressed during the forthcoming confirmation hearings. In turn, the RAC will forward these concerns on to the Senators.
The level of participation has been overwhelming: people are sending a diverse array of questions pertaining to Judge Roberts’ broader judicial philosophy and constitutional interpretation as well as more detailed queries regarding his interpretation of privacy and the establishment clause. What all of these questions do have in common is that they deserve to be answered.
Finally, the assertion that he is “entitled” to an up or down vote distorts the Senate’s processes. He is entitled to the fair and thorough application of the Senate’s “advise and consent” responsibilities—under the rules of the Senate if in the end forty of the Senators feel he is so divisive or extreme as to invoke the filibuster, that would be appropriate. Let me be clear: we do not advocate such a filibuster—nor do we oppose one—but FRC’s effort to rule it out is simply wrong.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism , whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews , and the Central Conference of American Rabbis , whose membership includes more than 1800 Reform rabbis .