As focus groups and senators begin to fight for and against the recent nomination of Justice Robert Garland to the supreme court, a surprising critic is found: Chief Justice John G. Roberts. Unaware of how timely his comments would be, Chief Justice Roberts spoke on the current nomination process to the supreme court just 10 days before Justice Scalia died. In particular, he rebuked senators, saying that the last three nominations to the supreme court- Justice Alito by President Bush, and Justices Sotomayor and Kagan by President Obama- were supremely qualified, and the partisan politics played over their nominations was disgraceful.
In his remarks at a New England Law School, Chief Justice Roberts said, “Look at my more recent colleagues, all extremely well qualified for the court, and the votes were, I think, strictly on party lines for the last three of them, or close to it, and that doesn’t make any sense. That suggests to me that the process is being used for something other than ensuring the qualifications of the nominees”. I agree with him- due in part to the lifespan and impact of a Supreme Court justice, it seems that the current consensus among senators is that if he or she wasn’t nominated by their party, they will fight tooth and nail against the nomination. Which is ridiculous. If a justice has a dubious legal history, or a lack of qualifications, opposing a nomination is natural. But oppose a nominee without holding hearings or considering him or her damages the Senate and the Court. Justice Roberts, as well as law professors at the University of Georgia, point out a potent victim of the ensuing political specter is the credibility of the Supreme Court, which is much less beholden to political party lines than either house of congress. While Justice Roberts has yet to comment on the recent nomination of Justice Garland. I hope that he does. Genuine concerns about a nominee are one thing. But as most of the current opposition to this most recent nomination comes not against the nominee, but the man who nominated him, it seems that the senate will continue the politicalization trend.