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‘This guy is good’

Enzi votes for Roberts to be 17th Chief Justice

September 29, 2005

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., voted for the nomination of Judge John Roberts to be the 17th Supreme Court Chief Justice of the United States. The U.S. Senate approved Roberts by a vote of 78-22 today.

Enzi’s remarks prepared for delivery on the Senate floor follow.


Statement of Senator Michael B. Enzi on the
Nomination of Judge John G. Roberts to be Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court
September 27, 2005

I rise today to share my thoughts on the nomination of Judge John Roberts to be the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Like most Americans, I watched the Judiciary Committee hearings with great interest and curiosity. Judge Roberts could potentially be the 17th Supreme Court Chief Justice in the history of the United States. It is amazing to consider that only 16 other people have shared that honor. It is a much shorter line than the number of Presidents back to George Washington - 42.

Considering this tie with history, I was thrilled to be watching the proceedings. However, I am also aware of my serious responsibility as a United States Senator at this time. The Senate has the duty to give its advice and consent to the President’s nomination. Given the comparative youth of Judge Roberts, the vote this week could affect the dispensation of Constitutional questions for many decades.

During over 20 hours of questions, I had ample opportunity to consider the qualities and character of Judge Roberts. I observed Judge Robert’s keen intelligence and modesty regarding his accomplishments. I also enjoyed his sense of humor in the midst of intense and repetitive questioning. He convinced me that he is qualified to serve on the highest federal bench.

During the hearings, I was reminded of a common fallacy where people think judges are politicians. Judges are NOT politicians. It has been easy to slip into the thinking that we need to know their political allegiance so that we can know what their decisions will be. We also begin thinking that judges should make decisions based on good policy. Finally, we believe that judges have to make us promises on the future decisions so that they can win our votes. Judges are not politicians. We need to know their qualifications, not their political allegiances. We need to know that their decisions will be made on the rule of law, not on good policy. We need to know that judges will not make promises to prejudge future cases in order to win votes. Judges are not politicians. A judge’s only constituent should be the United States Constitution. If the people were the constituents of judges, our confidence in an impartial hearing and ruling on our case would collapse.

A judge should be an intelligent, impartial, open and unbiased executor of the law. I believe that Judge Roberts meets these qualifications and is fit to serve as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. I am pleased that a bipartisan majority of the Judiciary Committee passed him through the Committee.

I go home to Wyoming most weekends. It lets me personally poll my constituents. That is an advantage of being from the least populated state. I can assure you they are impressed with Judge Roberts. That is probably not a surprise. However, during the week when I am in D.C., I visit with the janitors, electricians, picture hangers, and others around the offices. To a person they had comments like “this man really knows his stuff.” “He answers their questions without a single note or staff person whispering in his ear. I bet he could take the bar exam tomorrow and still pass it. This guy is good!” And I think that is the opinion of mainstream America. I look forward to voting on his nomination later this week.

Even after the vote, the Senate’s work to fill the Supreme Court will not be complete. We are waiting for another nomination from President Bush to replace retiring Justice O’Connor. I am pleased with the recent precedent set by the Judiciary Committee. In a bipartisan and timely manner, they voted out a nominee based on his qualifications. They voted him out based on his stated devotion to applying the rule of law. As the Senate prepares to consider the next Supreme Court nomination, it is my hope that the same process will be followed – a timely consideration based upon the qualifications of the nominee and not on scoring political points.