Note: This post accidentally appeared for a few minutes yesterday when it was incomplete. I apologize to those who use newsreaders to read my blog who had it appear and then disappear. One person even sent a trackback during that brief window, and I don't know how making the post a draft again before returning it to published status will affect that link. As of yesterday, I hadn't finished the last few paragraphs, and I hadn't put in links to some of what I was citing. I lost some of the links I was going to use and had to spend some time this morning finding them again. I've edited a few other parts as well.
The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Thursday to send President Bush's nomination of John Roberts for Chief Justice of the United States to the full Senate. In expressing his opposition, Senator Joseph Biden (D, MD) basically claimed that we elect our Supreme Court justices. Biden also said, "I'm unwilling to take the constitutional risk at this moment in the court's history." This is from the man who at Clarence Thomas' nomination hearings, and more recently at the hearings for Alberto Gonzales' nomination as Attorney General, said that in his view the advise and consent function of the Senate, as instituted by the Constitution, was for senators to judge whether a nominee was qualified and not whether the nominee was ideologically on the correct side. That's the job of voters when selecting a president who would make such nominations. He understood that other senators had different views and encouraged them to vote according to their conscience, but he thought of advising and consenting as giving advice to the president beforehand and simply investigating to see if the nominee is indeed qualified. Apparently that only applies when he wants it to. So while Biden is worried about a yes vote threatening the Constitution, all the while he's violating his senatorial responsibility according to the very interpretation of the Constitution that he had explained something like eight months ago to defend a yes vote on an unpopular nominee.