With his confirmation as chief justice virtually assured, Supreme Court nominee John Roberts Jr. wrapped up four days of confirmation hearings Thursday with a reassurance for nervous Democrats: "I am not an ideologue."
The Senate Judiciary Committee, which spent nearly 20 hours grilling Roberts on issues including abortion rights, affirmative action, capital punishment and wartime powers, assigned Roberts some weekend homework — answering additional questions in writing, Heuston Chronicle reports.
The committee's 10 Republicans and eight Democrats are expected to forward his nomination to the full Senate late next week, leaving time for a confirmation vote before the court begins hearing cases again Oct. 3.
After sometimes intense questioning in which they pleaded with Roberts to reveal more of himself as a judge and as a person, Democrats said they were still making up their minds.
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., who had voted against Roberts' nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, gave Roberts a list of pros and cons he is using to decide his vote.
On the plus side, Schumer said, are Roberts' intelligence, love of the law and philosophy of judicial modesty. As negatives, he listed doubts about Roberts' ability to empathize with the less fortunate, failure to disavow his Reagan-era memos suggesting insensitivity to immigrants and women, and his refusal to answer many questions because, according to Roberts, the issues could come before him as a justice.
The senator said his greatest fear is that Roberts indeed could be an ideologue.
Roberts urged senators to review some 50 opinions he has written over the past two years on the bench.
"I don't think you can read them and say these are the opinions of an ideologue," he said. "You and I agree that that's not the sort of person we want on the Supreme Court."