.- All eyes, especially those on both sides of the abortion and life-issues debate, will be on the Senate confirmation hearings, set to begin today for Judge John G. Roberts, whom President George Bush has tapped for Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. President Bush surprised many by promoting Roberts--originally tapped to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor--following the death of Chief Justice William Rehnquist last Saturday.
The National Right to Life began airing a radio commercial today suggesting an undue bias on the part of some Senators with regard to Judge Robert‘s Catholicity and possible stance on abortion.
A statement from the group today said that, “A new broadcast ad…launched today in eight cities in Illinois (13 radio stations), suggests that Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, a Democratic member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is being unfair in suggesting that Supreme Court nominee John Roberts might be disqualified if Roberts does not accept the legal theory of Roe v. Wade -- even though Durbin himself strongly advocated overturning Roe v. Wade when he was a member of the House of Representatives.”
A heated debate over the role of Robert’s Catholic faith has been at the center of the nomination for some months now, even though the judge has never specifically articulated his stance on abortion.
Many have accused some of the 18 members of the Senate Judiciary Committee of establishing an unconstitutional “religious litmus test” for Roberts because of a distaste for Catholic teaching on abortion and life-issues.
In July, Father Frank Pavone, president of Priests for Life said that, "Anyone familiar with American history and the United States Constitution should be embarrassed by the suggestion that a nominee for the Supreme Court has to run a religious gauntlet on his way to confirmation. Religious convictions are not excess baggage or obstacles on the road to public service."
Hearings for 50-year old Roberts, which were originally scheduled to begin last week, were postponed both due to the hurricane disaster in the U.S. Gulf Coast and to his promotion as nominee for Chief Justice.