September 15, 2005

Lessons Learned from John Roberts or How To Be A Senator

So the fun is about to end. Today, the Senate will pack up and move on to the more important business of talking about oil subsidies to a mostly empty room, or in Senator Kennedys case, sleeping. John Roberts will go home, wax his hair, and attempt to get a little bit of sleep before the committee takes a predictable vote (10-8 on party lines, which should make the Democrats look like an incredibly honorable bunch), and offers up his nomination to the rest of the Senate for an equally predictable vote (65-35, with Olympia Snow on their side, and Joe Biden on ours), after which he will don the robe, adjust the stripes and ascend the bench. And then he will be able to put the experience of listening to all of this useless blather, and sleeping with his eyes open while personally thinking about how stupid the people talking are, and hearing bad baseball metaphors that he couldn't give a rats patoot about to good use as a Judge for the Supreme Court

(Editor's Note: That is by no way an indictment of the Supreme Court or any and all judges that Ms. Zanotti may or may not have the pleasure of appearing in front of at any time in the present or future. Ms. Zanotti firmly believes that judges are the smartest people in the world, and all of them fully deserve their posts, and she really likes judges. In fact she likes them so much that she will take this opportunity to thank them for their incredibly amazing service to this honorable country and its people).

And we will have learned some very important lessons about Senatorial procedure (motto: Not doing work at a rate of more than two pages+one phone call per hour since 1782!). Namely, that when the Senate does anything, it involves a lot of talking, very little thinking, and not a whole lot of actual work, which leads me to believe that I would be an excellent Senator, since that is just my thing. Only I don't think I have quite the lung capacity for that much hot air.

Some may disagree, specifically some who know me, or happen to have some sort of class with me. But anyway.

The Senate Judiciary Committee hearings proceeded basically like this (done the way it should have been done had I been liveblogging it, and didn't mind devoting inane amounts of my time to watching C-Span, which I frequently do, but only in the context of avoiding doing actual work).

11:50--Senator Kennedy is up.

11:51--Fifteen minute recess

12:25--"Fifteen minute" recess over

12:25--Senator Kennedy up again, suggest that Judge Roberts may be doing an excellent job of being smarter than most of the Senators (not particularly hard to do), and object to the fact that John Roberts has not provided the Senators with any good legal information for 1) how to successfully undermine the power of the President, 2) interpretation of the 9th Amendment, or 3) how to beat a drunken driving and/or involutnary manslaughter charge (Teddy, the key is diplomatic immunity--give up your Senate seat and give enough money to a campaign that wins, so that you can move into that giant house in Norway)

12:31--Senator Kennedy and/or Senator Biden comes up with a clever phrase to describe how John Roberts is avoiding answering pertinet questions, possibly from a late-60's television spy comedy.

12:42 (that took a while)--Senator Kennedy is thinking of a question.

12:44--Senator Kennedy launches into a diatribe about the Voter Rights Act of 1965, indicating that it is a very important act, maybe even essential to American politics.

12:45--Senator Kennedy continues diatribe while turning a nice shade of purple (no question yet).

12:50--Senator Kennedy is very concerned with the state of the Voter Rights Act of 1965, but is politely informed by Senator Specter that the Voter Rights act was passed in 1964, and politely requests that Senator Kennedy actually ask a question.

12:56--Senator Kennedy continues diatribe on Voter Rights Act and/or Housing Act of a specific year, and concludes with a question, "do you support the right of black people and/or women and/or homosexuals and/or disabled people and/or Louisiana Black Bears to vote?" (abridged for convenience).

1:00--Anticipating an answer which he does not believe is adequate, Senator Kennedy launches into a diatribe on some sort of Disabilities Act. John Roberts, who's only actual answer to the first question was "uh..." looks plaintively at Senator Specter for help, and Senator Specter politiely requests that Senator Kennedy allow Judge Roberts to answer the question.

11:05--Senator Kennedy says "please answer the question"

11:05:30--Senator Kennedy proceeds to ask another question. Apparently, he is concerned with some memo that John Roberts wrote at some point in his term in the Reagan administration when he was assisting in poilcy questions for the Reagan Adminstration, as an employee of the Reagan Adminstration. Kennedy asks whether the memo that Roberts wrote as a member of the Reagan Adminstration reflects his personal views.

11:10--John Roberts is jolted awake by silence, after having been lulled to sleep by the dulct tones of Kennedy's Massachusetts accent answers, "At that time, I was a member of the Reagan Adminstration."

11:20--Floor yeilds to Diane Feinstein.

11:21--Diane Feinstein informs the viewing public that she has, indeed, had personal experience with almost every single issue that might come before the court in the next ten years. Almost all instances involve her dog.

11:45--Diane Feinstein asks a question, "Do you believe that the Constitution contains a right to have an abortion?" (abridged for simplicity)

11:46--John Roberts: "I can't answer that question"

11:47--Diane Feinstein relates a personal experience she has had with some sort of other issue that the court may have to consider

11:48-Diane Feinstein asks a question, ""Do you believe that the Constitution contains a right to have an abortion?"

11:49--John Roberts: "I can't answer that question."

11:50--Diane Feinstein asks a question "Do you believe that the Constitution contains a right to have an abortion?"

11:51--John Roberts: "I can't answer that question."

12:00--Lunch break

1:30--Return from lunch break, and post-lunch makeup retouch.

1:32--Senator Biden is up. Senator Biden compliments John Roberts on his ability to successfully avoid the stupid questions that he is being faced with. He suggests that Roberts may have hit a "home run" with his questions and/or that he may have hit a "Grand Slam" or that his performance is comparable to "Ken Griffey, Jr." or any number of baseball references.

1:35--No question from Biden yet, but Biden makes it apparently clear that if the Supreme Court so chooses, that it could alter the "Infield Fly Rule" through a reinterpretation of the Tenth Amendment, since it applies to federal regulatory authority, and the National League has the word "nation" in it, and that word also appears in several important Historical Documents, so Biden must be careful to question Roberts closesly because he likes the "Infield Fly Rule" and feels that it should not be changed, by is "troubled" by Robert's record on such matters.

1:40--Biden begins using unintelligible legal terms. At this point, we could call a filibuster, but Leahy is itching to use a very large chart.

1:41--Biden asks a question, "Do you believe that the Constitution contains a right to have an abortion?"

1:42--John Roberts: "I can't answer that question."

1:45--Floor shifts to Leahy, and he brings out a very large chart. Prior to introducing said chart, Leahy, the committee's ranking Democrat, leads off with an observation that the hurricane was "a tragic reminder of why we have a federal government." (That was NOT made up, I SWEAR)

1:47--Leahy begins to explain how the chart, which does not appear to contain any information outside of a very large bar chart, illustrates a line of cases in which the Supreme Court have could have determined that Roe v. Wade was bad law, but considering that most of those cases involved the farming rights of Native Americans in Oregon, they did not. CNN raves.

2:30 (that took a while)--Republicans are up. Several Senate pages are mustered to wake them. Tom Coburns Yahoo account is renewed so that he can do crossword puzzles online, which creates the appearance of being not only work-ready, but also technologically saavy.

2:35--A Senate page is called because Tom Coburn has begun crying. Yahoo is down (real reason). There is an amazing history of enumerated powers for the federal government (reasn given to Fox News). Ted Kennedy, commenting for CNN, explains that he does this all the time, and calls him a weiner. The CNN anchors agree.

2:40--Coburn, having used thirty tissues, yeilds the floor to Senator Specter

2:50--Specter is now angry. He is yelling. Mostly about something that has something to do with his neighbors dog.

3:15--Specter's rant is over, he has ten seconds left, he counts them down out loud.

3:30--Specter yields the floor.

3:50--Dick Durbin, who is not entirely sure which party he belongs to, asks John Roberts whether he believes that there might be people behind the precedents, families behind the footnotes, and several other alliterative phrases that indicate the he believes the John Roberts has lived in the Palace of Versailles for most of his life.

4:00--John Roberts calmly explains that he is not a robot, and is not actually totally isolated from reality, though he does agree that his children's clothing might have been ordered from a 1936 Sears Catalogue.

4:20--An unnamed Democrat accuses John Roberts of playing party politics.

4:20:30--The entire Conservative Blogosphere lets out a collective giggle.

The whole mess adjourns at 5:00 so that Arlen and Joe can make the Early Bird Specials at the Dubliner, and because Teddy Kennedy is slowly becoming sober enough to remember that he is, indeed, employed in public service. They all clean the crumbs off of their shirts, wipe the spittle from their desk chairs, stand up and shake hands with Roberts who promplty reaches for his wife who assures them that yes, they have Purell in the car.

At least she thinks so, and she'll tell him as soon as she gets an answer to the following question:

"Do you believe that the Constitution contains a right to have an abortion? Because, if it does, you are sleeping on the Supreme Couch tonight, no matter what the heck you think Thomas Jefferson said."


Posted by E. M. Zanotti at September 15, 2005 07:09 PM

11:20--Floor yeilds to Diane Feinstein.

This evokes a lovely image of Sen. Feinstein sinking slowly behind the dias; finding herself alone on the 7th floor of the Hart Senate Bldg. -- demanding to know why homemakers get only 59 cents for a lawyer, or that 59 lawyers should be at the bottom of the ocean, or...

Posted by: Becky at September 16, 2005 09:55 AM