Sunday, July 03, 2005

Face the Nation: Biden's Big Whoops

I was only able to catch the first segment of "Face the Nation" today, since it's on at the same time here as "This Week." But that gave me enough time to see what Senators Biden and Hatch had to say about the SCOTUS situation.

This were pretty basic for the first little while, with both Hatch and Biden praising O'Connor. Hatch was asked about whether Gonzales would be a good nominee, and after saying "it's not my job to pick," he called the conservative opposition to the Attorney General "pure bunk." Hatch called Gonzales "a terrific human being and a good lawyer, a person who can handle the job." If he were nominated, Hatch said, "we would all feel pretty good about it," and if he gets picked I'm certainly going to support him." Biden responded and said that he "he could certainly take a good look" at Gonzales. He called this moment "a chance for the president to resurrect his second term," by resisting the pressure from the right and not picking someone he called a "pure ideologue."

Here's the big story out of "Face the Nation." Asked if the status of Roe v. Wade was going to be a defining issue for Biden in the upcoming hearings, Biden said no, "I don't think we should be talking about specific outcomes of specific cases," and instead look at methodology and how the potential justice would approach cases. Roberts asked Biden what has changed about that since the hearings for Clarence Thomas, saying Biden was accused of "badgering the witness" about abortion in that instance. Biden seemed to take great umbrage, saying he'd both never been accused of badgering and had never asked Clarence Thomas about abortion specifically.

Well ...

The Judiciary Committee hearings on Clarence Thomas from 1991 are available online (here). Here's some of the questioning, from September 10:

"Biden: ... Judge, in your view, does the liberty clause of the Fourteenth Amendment protect the right of women to decide for themselves in certain instances whether or not to terminate pregnancy?

Thomas: Senator, first of all, let me look at that in a context other than with natural law principles. I --

Biden: Let's forget about natural law for a minute if you'd to.

Thomas: My view is that there is a right to privacy in the Fourteenth Amendment.

Biden: Well, Judge, does that right to privacy in the liberty clause of the Fourteenth Amendment protect the right of a woman to decide for herself in certain instances whether or not to terminate a pregnancy?

Thomas: Senator, I think that the Supreme Court has made clear that the issue of marital privacy is protected, that the state cannot infringe on that without a compelling interest, and the Supreme Court, of course, in the case of Roe v. Wade has found an interest in the woman's right -- as a fundamental interest, the woman's right to terminate a pregnancy. I would not -- I do not think that at this time that I could maintain my impartiality as a member of the judiciary and comment on that specific case" [emphases added]

Not badgering, in my opinion - but he certainly asked the question, and from what he said today, he would not ask a similar question today. Interesting.

[Update: Biden said something else today which I forgot to mention before - asked if there were any nominees who would be filibustered, Biden said he thought there were, and mentioned Janice Rogers Brown by name. He got around the "but she just got confirmed" question by arguing that the Supreme Court is at a higher level than the circuit court. The AP has a story on this here. -- 2:48 p.m.]

[Update: The transcript of Biden's appearance this morning is now available here. The relevant exchange is in the middle of the page numbered 4 in the top right corner. Here it is:

"Roberts: "Well, Senator Biden, on the abortion issue what has changed for you, then, since the days of the Clarence Thomas hearings when you were accused ...

Biden: Not a thing.

Roberts: ... of badgering the witness over his - asking him about his views on abortion?

Biden: That is not true. No one ever said that. You're the first person in American history that said that. I've never asked the question about abortion. I've never asked him about that. I asked his - him questions on esoteric things that now turned out to be dispositive. What's his view on natural law? He wrote about that. How did he arrive at decisions relating to personal rights as well as property rights? That's what I asked him, Bob [sic]. I never once asked the question about a specific issue, particularly abortion" [emphases added].

Not, as they say, entirely accurate. I don't dislike Joe Biden, but I think it's important that any political leader, regardless of party, be held accountable for their words and deeds. -- 2:59 p.m.]

[Update: Trey Jackson now has video up of the Roberts-Biden exchange. -- 5 July, 8:59 p.m.]


At 11:10 AM, Anonymous Phil S said...

I'm a Biden fan, but that's a good catch!!! Great work!!
Earlier on MTP, Hagel has become this generations' Mike Mansfield--standing up against his president on the war!

At 7:31 PM, Blogger George said...

Great Job! I was watching the program, and when Sen. Biden said he never asked an abortion question, I knew he had stepped in it. You beat me to it.


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