U.S. Chief Justice nominee John Roberts, his record on civil rights and women’s rights challenged by Democrats, vowed at the start of his Senate confirmation hearing on Monday to ensure that the Supreme Court protects all Americans.
“I have no agenda, but I do have a commitment,” Roberts, President George W. Bush’s conservative nominee to replace the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist, told the Senate Judiciary Committee. “If I am confirmed, I will confront every case with an open mind.”
“I will be vigilant to protect the independence and integrity of the Supreme Court,” Roberts said. “I will work to ensure that it upholds the rule of law and safeguards those liberties that make this land one of endless possibilities for all Americans.”
Roberts made the pledge after the 18 members of the committee — 10 Republicans and eight Democrats — delivered opening statements in the first confirmation hearing of a Supreme Court nominee in 11 years.
Democratic and Republican lawmakers lauded Roberts’ credentials. A federal appeals court judge for the past two years, he served in the Republican administrations of President Ronald Reagan and the first President George Bush.