Thursday, February 18, 2016

proposed statement by Chief Justice John Roberts on US Senate obstruction

This message is both a general message for all Americans and a specific message for the 100 Americans who are currently US Senators.

My name is John Roberts.  Since I was confirmed by the US Senate on September 29, 2005, I have been privileged and honored to serve as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

During my confirmation hearing I committed to decide cases like a baseball umpire calls balls and strikes. And I would be more comfortable conducting my duties quietly from the Supreme Court.

But the United States Senate has threatened to neglect its duty under the US Constitution. The majority leader and individual US Senators have expressed a goal of maintaining a vacancy on the Supreme Court until 2017.

Sometimes being the umpire is more than just calling balls & strikes. Sometimes the umpire has to confer with other umpires and sometimes he has to discipline players or a manager.

Justice Antonin Scalia was a valued member of the Supreme Court. He also had fans and loyalists who are upset about his passing.

As Chief Justice, I want to hit a “reset button”. I want people, including US Senators to forget what they’ve said in the past and forgive things said by others.

The US Constitution is clear. The President of the United States appoints judges. The US Senate offers advice and consent on these appointments.

The US Senate is free to vote down any nominee. It would be irresponsible and negligent to refuse to vote on nominees. That’s why I want every US Senator to take back those threats and allow the process to move forward as described in the US Constitution and developed by 227 years of tradition.

Justice Antonin Scalia was a valued member of the Supreme Court. It is an insult to both Toni Scalia and to the Supreme Court as an institution to leave that seat vacant because various politicians have calculated that it’s to their advantage to leave the position vacant.

To underscore my commitment to both resolving this specific case and to ensuring this situation doesn’t happen again—every fourth year is a presidential election, after all—I will not be voting on court cases until Justice Scalia’s successor is confirmed.

In the past it has taken from 70 to 120 days to confirm new Supreme Court justices. I don’t feel a need to rush the process, but I don’t want it delayed—on this point I have the support of the entire Supreme Court—in any ways that are arbitrary, unnatural or simply partisan.

I thank you for taking the time to listen. I hope this statement will cause everyone involved to focus on doing their duties.

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