The Supreme Court is often the last line of defense for the freedoms and liberties for hundreds of millions of Americans. Few responsibilities of the Senate are more important than reviewing the qualifications of nominees for the Supreme Court. Every Senator, Republican or Democrats, has a responsibility to determine whether Mr. Roberts deserves to join the currently closely divided court when so much is at stake. It's wrong for any Senator to be a rubberstamp.
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
All of us in the Senate who have been through this process know the importance of this process. Every American ought to be asking some tough questions right now about whether Mr. Roberts is fit to serve on the highest court in the land.
Will he protect average Americans when their rights are abused by powerful corporations?
Will he ensure that private companies aren't allowed to pollute our rivers and lakes and our air?
Will he protect and preserve the progress we've made on equal opportunity and fairness for all Americans?
Will he separate his personal ideology from the rule of law and protect the rights and freedoms of all Americans, not just the powerful or the wealthy.
Justice O'Connor set a high standard. She tried to bring the nation together, and she respected the Constitution. She was a mainstream conservative who used her ability and respect for the rule of law to find solutions that would strengthen us as a nation, as the Constitution intended.
Mr. Roberts must demonstrate that he meets that standard before the American people, and he will have an opportunity to do so before the Senate Judiciary Committee before the coming weeks.
No nominee, especially a nominee who is well known to have argued ideological positions on issues important to the American people, should be confirmed without full and candid disclosure and discussion of those positions and their importance to him.
I welcome the opportunity to question Mr. Roberts, and believe that the American people will know at the end of this process whether he should advance to the Supreme Court.
We have a responsibility to the Constitution and to the American people and their children and grandchildren to get this right.