Gloria Borger's Early Show recap of yesterday's confirmation hearings for Judge John Roberts was dominated by exchanges with liberal senators pressing the Chief Justice nominee from the Left on abortion, but Borger closed off her report noting that conservatives are concerned about Roberts's views on overturning Roe v. Wade: "Conservatives are listening very closely to what Judge Roberts has to say about Roe versus Wade."
Although it is obvious from her own reporting that there is an equal if not stronger liberal obsession with preserving Roe at all costs from future reversal or weakening, Borger doesn't impute any political motivations to Roberts's critics, presenting the issue, rather, as one of whether the "precedent of Roe versus Wade so strong that Roberts would not vote to overturn it," as if long-held "strong" precedents in Court history somehow innoculate themselves from reversal on constitutional grounds when a future Court decides the reasoning of the precedent was grievously flawed (as the Court did in Brown v. Board of Education in reversing Plessy v. Ferguson).
Below is the transcript:
14 September 2005 (Wednesday)
@ 0709 EDT
Julie Chen, from Los Angeles: "Supreme Court Chief Justice nominee John Roberts faced a tough day of grilling at his confirmation hearing Tuesday. CBS News national political correspondent Gloria Borger reports."
Judge John Roberts: "I've tried as scrupulously as possible today to avoid making any commitments about any cases that might come before the Court."
Gloria Borger: "The first flash point, abortion rights. The key question, is the precedent of Roe versus Wade so strong that Roberts would not vote to overturn it?"
Roberts: "I do think that it's a jolt to the legal system when you overrule a precedent."
Borger: "The Republican chairman, who favors abortion rights, continued to press."
Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA): "Would you think that Roe might be a super-duper precedent?"
Borger: "Roberts refused to go any further except to say:"
Roberts: "There's nothing in my personal views based on faith or other sources, that would prevent me from applying the precedents of the Court."
Borger: "The only woman on the panel grilled Roberts on his old legal memos which appeared to disparage women and their complaints about unequal pay."
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA): "Yet none of these comments are modest or humble."
Borger: "For a litigator who has argued 29 cases before the Supreme Court, Roberts proved just as unflappable in the Senate hearing room."
Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE): "The answers are misleading with all due respect."
Specter: "Well, they, now, just wait a minute, wait a minute. They may be misleading, but they're his answers."
Biden: "Okay, fine. Fire away."
Specter: "You may finish, Judge Roberts."
Roberts: "With respect, they are my answers, and with respect they're not misleading, they're accurate."
Borger: "Conservatives are listening very closely to what Judge Roberts has to say about Roe versus Wade. They want him to vote to overturn it, but they're not sure he would. Gloria Borger, CBS News, Washington."
### @ 0710 EDT ###