ARLEN SPECTER: Welcome to Day three of the confirmation hearings of John Roberts. I’d like to take this opportunity to remind the nation of what a wonderful job I’m doing chairing this committee, and I’d like to let the ranking member tell me so.
PATRICK LEAHY: Absolutely, Mr. Chairman! And let me kick off this morning’s platitudes about the grandeur of our Constitution by quoting its first three words, “We the People.” That means that here in America the people rule – except on issues like abortion, where their opinions don’t mean spit.
SPECTER: Very well put, Senator Leahy! And welcome Judge Roberts back before our committee.
JOHN ROBERTS: Aw, shucks. This has been a humbling experience, Mr. Chairman. To think that a boy from an exclusive prep school and Harvard Law could grow up and be nominated for the Supreme Court – it shows how in America it’s possible to rise from privilege to power! That’s the hallmark of our great nation.
So while, of course, I can’t talk about specific cases, or any emotions, weather patterns or sandwich meats that may come before the Supreme Court at any time between now and my death in 2048, I do want to reiterate that I feel humbled by this experience. I feel humbled that my wife is dozing off behind me. I feel humbled by this committee’s inability to lay a glove on me. And I feel modest. You see this suit? I skinny-dip in this suit. That’s how modest I feel.
TOM COBURN: Well put, Judge Roberts. Yet when I think of the polarization that still divides this great nation waaaahhhh waaaahhhh. (Coburn breaks down weeping.)
JEFF SESSIONS: This may be a good moment to remind my colleagues on the other side of the aisle that in this country unelected judges don’t write the laws. We have unelected lobbyists to do that. Under our system, judges merely interpret the law and decide presidential elections.
SPECTER: Senator Sessions, let me interrupt you right there. We’re not here to argue among ourselves and ignore the nominee. We’re here to deliver 30-minute speeches disguised as questions and ignore the nominee. So let me turn to Senator Bid …
COBURN: And when I think of the flaws in the reconciliation process! And the gerrymandering! Oh, the suffering! Oh, the humanity! Waaaahhhh! Waaaahhhh! (Coburn collapses and is taken back to his office on a stretcher.)
SPECTER: As I was saying, Senator Biden, you have the floor.
JOSEPH BIDEN JR.: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I thought this might be a good moment to give the committee a complete history of my heroic sponsorship of the Violence Against Women Act, but before I do that I’d like to interrupt myself by mentioning that I ride the train every day, often speaking with regular Americans, but before I do that I’d like to interrupt my interruption of myself by asking the chairman to restrain the nominee. During my first round of questioning, the nominee continually interrupted my questions by trying to give answers. I could barely keep up my train of thought on stare decisis.
EDWARD KENNEDY: Starry De Cysis? Didn’t she do a fan dance down at that old burlesque house in Providence?
ROBERTS: Mr. Chairman, I certainly don’t mean to draw attention to myself, for, as I have said, judges are like umpires – not home plate umpires, but those umpires stuck way out by the right-field foul pole. Nobody ever went to a game to watch the umpires.
But as you know, Judge Ginsburg, during her confirmation hearing, had herself wrapped in duct tape for fear that any involuntary reflex gestures she might make would mar her impartiality in deciding cases later on. Following her example, I have decided to spend the rest of these hearings in a soundproof booth, sunk in a tank of ravenous sharks and accompanied only by the illusionist David Copperfield. But before I go into isolation, I would like to mention the intense modesty I feel at this moment, notwithstanding the fact that not a single one of you slobs could have charged $700 an hour the way I did in private practice.
RICHARD DURBIN: Judge Roberts, before you go, one of the ways we in the Senate prove our superior souls is by emoting mawkish sentimentality on cue. Would you please emote sadness and pain on behalf of politically powerful but downtrodden groups?ROBERTS: I am emoting, Senator.