09.28.05

Burr Urges Senate Confirmation of Judge John Roberts, Calls for an End to Divisiveness

Senator Richard Burr spoke on the Senate floor today to urge his colleagues to vote in support of the nomination of Judge John Roberts for Chief Justice of the United States. Video of Senator Burr's remarks can be seen on his webpage at https://www.burr.senate.gov. Text of his remarks is below. The vote on Roberts is expected tomorrow.

"Mr. President:

I rise today like my colleague to support the nomination of Judge John Roberts to be the Chief Justice for the United States Supreme Court.

To those that know me, to those that have heard me talk on this subject, this is no great surprise, but voting on a Supreme Court nomination is a very rare task, and it's more historic now as the Senate will consider a nominee for the top job of the Court.

Mr. President, the question I ask today is - Why should America care about this debate?

This debate is more significant than a lifetime appointment of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

This debate is more significant than the influence that one single individual brings that is chosen.

This debate is about future decisions that will affect the lives of every American - that will affect our children and our children's children.

From our civil liberties, to property rights, questions of life and death, to safety in communities, to our very basic freedoms, there is no area in our daily lives that is not somehow affected by the judicial decisions of the United States Supreme Court.

The decisions made by the Court today will have a lasting effect long after we've gone from this institution.

It's essential, absolutely essential, that we confirm not only competent, impartial judges, but those who are the very brightest, and those who are good citizens and understand the task that they've been nominated and confirmed for.

Over the course of the last several weeks, we've all had the opportunity to hear from legal experts, from political analysts about Judge Roberts and the chances of success of his nomination and his confirmation.

We've had a process of very detailed hearings where our colleagues, many of which are lawyers, have asked the most appropriate questions with a lot of thought, a lot of time to deliver the questions.

And, we have seen the response of a brilliant lawyer, with no notes, quote from case law from years past that appropriately answer the question that didn't affect future cases that the court might hear.

Now, I'm not a lawyer, and perhaps I don't judge Judge Robert's legal background in the same way that lawyers might judge him. But I do understand people. I understand when I meet somebody that's a good person. I've met Judge Roberts. This is a good person. This is an individual that America can be proud of when they refer to him as Chief Justice.

Mr. President, a couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to have Judge Roberts in my office. We talked about his background, his life experiences, we talked about our families.

I didn't quiz him on legal precedent, court rulings. I didn't present him with hypothetical cases or his positions on hot topics of the day. That, quite frankly, wasn't the ground that I was focused to go over.

Personally, as a husband and a father, I wanted to know where Judge Roberts truly stood and understood the job that he is being asked to do.

I wanted to know if he truly understood the responsibilities - not just as a lawyer, not just as a Justice - but as a husband and as a father. And the importance of the decisions that he'd rule on and how they would affect not only his family, but in a real way, he would understand how they would affect every family in North Carolina.

Now as a Senator, we're all responsible for constituents. I'm responsible for representing more than 8 ½ million North Carolinians and I wanted to know, quite frankly, if Judge Roberts intends to preserve our nation's Constitutional principles, by interpreting law, not making law.

I'm proud to tell you that based on his answers to me and his testimony to the Judiciary Committee, I am confident he will do just that - interpret the law, not write the law.

Judge Roberts has the academic and professional credentials to serve as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

But, Mr. President, there's something that concerns me today. It concerns me and it should concern the American people.

This vote will not be unanimous. This vote will be far from unanimous based upon reports from Senators.

Why? Politics.

I'm not sure that it's ever permeated the process to the degree that it has in this. As we stand here today, with one of the brightest nominees, ready to confirm, some in this institution are already suggesting that the next nominee has no chance.

There's not a person that has been nominated. There's a group of names that has been talked about. I might remind them that Judge Roberts was never talked about in the group that was forwarded to come up in the President's first nomination.

Yet some suggest we're going to move the bar even further for the next nominee that comes through.

Mr. President, divisiveness has to stop in this institution.

We choose the best and the brightest to serve this country.

If we consistently move that bar, if we consistently dig to find things that no other Congress has looked for, if we're not careful, no one will want that job.

If we're not careful, the best and the brightest legal minds in this country that would serve on the bench and serve with distinction, regardless of what party they're from, when they get that call, they will say, 'Mr. President, I want to pass. I can't put my family through it. I can't put myself through it. The risk of going through with it is too great to everything around me to serve my country.'

I ask all of us - what message are we sending to our children when the best and the brightest pass, when they elect not to go through the process that we in this body have control of?

This is a defining time for the United States Senate.

This will determine who's willing in the future to actually serve their country and serve it in one of the single most important areas, the United States Supreme Court.

Mr. President, I am confident that Judge Roberts holds the academic credentials, he holds the professional credentials, but more important, I am confident today that Judge Roberts is a good man.

He deserves the support of every member of the United States Senate to become Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court."