Edward Whelan tells us what to expect during the Roberts hearings, as does the NYTs Linda Greenhouse, who provides a kind of primer of possible challenging questions. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter offers a glimpse of his opening statement.
Democrats are likely to use the televised hearings that begin Monday to accomplish two more modest goals: to retool their partys message and to set the stage for the struggle over OConnors successor.
"More than anything else, they want to lay down markers for what would be acceptable or unacceptable in the next vacancy," [Progressive Policy Institute Senior Fellow Marshall] Wittmann said. "That means there will be an intensification of the questions they will ask Roberts because they know they will be sending signals to the administration about the next nomination."
Our two major dailies offer different larger contexts for the hearings. The Washington Post gives us a
long article about Robertss Supreme Court appellate practice, which suggests that he has accepted a certain discipline that might have taken him some distance from his fire-breathing conservative days in the Reagan Administration. The New York Times decides that its appropriate, in effect, to speak ill of the dead by dredging up items used to attack William Rehnquist in his confirmation hearings. Given what the Post tells us about Robertss preparation habits and a previous article about "sherpas," its highly unlikely that Roberts will be blindsided the way Rehnquist was. So why retell that story? Perhaps the Times wants to remind its readers that Republicans were on the "wrong" side of some civil rights issues.