I've seen parts of the confirmation hearings today. I saw part of Senator Biden's questioning, part of Senator DeWine's questioning, all of Sen. Feinstein's questioning, and some of Sen. Sessions' questioning.
Watching Feinstein was interesting. I thought she asked good questions, but I was disappointed with how quickly she moved on. Roberts really stuck to his "I like females; I married one and my wife gave birth to one" approach to inquiries as to some of his prior writings about women and gender discrimination. She also inquired as to his views of federalism and striking down acts of Congress. Those two are the issues of most interest to me in regards to Roberts as a candidate. I was disappointed that Feinstein asked the question, let Roberts answer, then moved on to the next question. I think there were quite a few times when Roberts gave really weak responses that warranted some hard-hitting follow-ups that Feinstein did not pursue. His remarks on the fact that maybe making more lawyers out of homemakers was not a good thing amounted to the fact that it was all one big 'lawyer' joke, and it lightened the day at the office, and that was really just the spirit of the office to make jokes about too many lawyers. Lawyer joke? That's the first one that I've heard (and believe you me, I've heard a lot) that includes the term "homemaker" but I'll have to keep it on hand for a good chuckle next time we're having a bad day at the office.
I think there are several possibilities as to why Feinstein let him off easy here. It's possible that Roberts' remarks are actually being taken out of context and made to look nastier than they are. It's also possible that Feinstein was less interested in harassing Roberts (like Biden did) and was more interested in pinning him down to an answer for now. Biden was pretty aggressive, and since confrontation makes me nervous [I'm a bad lawyer] I had to look away a few times. The part of Biden's questioning that I saw had some merit, and on the points that had merit I think it was good to be aggressive. But I think that there were times when Roberts validly exercised his right not to answer questions regarding his political views on hot-button issues, and Biden ridiculed him, referring to the "Ginsburg rule" that Roberts invoked - that is, Ginsburg testified to more things than Roberts did because she wrote about them and thus had to answer to them. So Biden kept chasing Roberts around on that one.
Hoenstly, I'm glad to see Roberts refusing to answer questions on that basis. I think that the judiciary has become far too entangled with Congress's agenda (see, e.g., Terri Schiavo, the new habeas corpus bill) and I like to see justices sticking to their guns on their autonomy and responsibility to the courts and litigants outside of political affiliations. There's no doubt that the personal views of justices come through in their cases, but I think that the appearance of an independent judicial power is critical. I don't think it is much of a secret, any more than with any other justices, as to how Roberts will fall on the Supreme Court, and I think it's sufficient to pin Roberts down on stare decisis. I will be eating my words when he manages to overturn Roe and Casey and single-handedly repeals the 19th Amendment. Aside from that, I'm glad that there is some line-drawing as to the accountability of justices. I honestly think it's necessary in the mainstream media right now.
Sen. Sessions canonized Roberts in his 'questions' that were all rhetorical. I need to get back to CSPAN now so I can see more of this excitement. Whoot!
[Addendum: CSPAN just cut off Schumer and referred me to CSPAN 3 for additional coverage, which sucks because who really has CSPAN 3? At least, I don't think I have it. Anyway, Feingold was AMAZING with questions regarding Hamdi, Hamden, and whether Korematsu is good law, etc... I'm definitely in love with Feingold. IN. Love. Schumer was really good too. Roberts did too much dodging with them.]
[Also, to add to the 'lawyer joke' pile that Roberts is amassing, Roberts's response to his use of the phrase, "illegal amigos"? Chalk it up to the desire to appeal to diverse masses. Politicians use Spanish words when speaking to Latino crowds, he explained. That phrase was merely just a reference to common political usage, Roberts insisted. You know how it is. Just referrin' to those silly politicians using those furrin words. More office hijinx. Schumer kept trying to ask him whether he believed that was the most appropriate phrase to use? Roberts said it was. Schumer replied curtly, "I must disagree with you on that," and moved along.]