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Roberts Hearings: Wednesday's Audio Highlights

Chief Justice nominee John Roberts (left) shares a light moment with Sen. Joe Biden during a break in his confirmation hearings, Sept. 14 , 2005. Earlier, Biden chided Roberts for offering "non-answers" to the Judiciary Committee. Jason Reed/Reuters hide caption

toggle caption Jason Reed/Reuters

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday began a second full day of testimony from Supreme Court nominee John Roberts.

During Wednesday's hearings, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) raised concerns over the growing trend among some justices to cite foreign law to buttress their arguments. The issue has become a divisive one on the Supreme Court and among Republicans who object to the trend.

Right-to-die issues also came up several times. Coburn pressed Roberts to define the end of life. Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) expressed frustration at Roberts' refusal to answer numerous questions on whether the chief justice nominee believes in a right to die and to make end-of-life decisions.

Listen to highlights from Wednesday's hearings so far:

Wednesday Wrap-Up

Special Coverage (Streaming, 50 min. file)

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/4847085/4848338" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Sen. Chuck Schumer asks Roberts to "convince" him of his position on judicial restraint.

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Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) asks Roberts whether citing foreign law in Supreme Court opinions is 'good behavior.'

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Coburn presses Roberts on the definition of the end of life.

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Roberts tells Chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA) that the principles embodied in the Constitution were meant to apply to changing conditions in the broadest terms.

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Roberts says building consensus on the Supreme Court would be one of his main goals if confirmed as chief justice. He's responding to a question from Specter.

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/4847085/4847088" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) questions Roberts on the government's power to limit the media's rights.

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Leahy questions Roberts on the limits of death row inmates' constitutional right to appeal.

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/4847085/4847141" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) presses Roberts on whether he believes a right to die exists.

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/4847085/4847459" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Biden accuses Roberts of doing a 'Kabuki dance' in the hearings to avoid offering direct answers on his views.

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/4847085/4847457" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

A recent Supreme Court decision expanded the government's power to seize private property. Roberts tells Leahy that legislators should intervene on behalf of citizens if they don't want to use this expanded authority.

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/4847085/4847631" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) asks Roberts about applying 'old antitrust laws' to new technologies. Roberts says that you apply the same principles in a new context.

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Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) asks Roberts whether Congress has the power to prohibit discrimination against gays in employment.

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/4847085/4847964" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) asks Roberts about limiting the reach of the Commerce Clause (which Congress has often used to justify its legislative power over citizens).

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/4847085/4847962" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Roberts says that he believes in a substantive right to privacy. But he refuses to answer a question from Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) about whether his view on privacy differs from that of Justice Clarence Thomas.

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Asked by Schumer whether he'll be a justice in the mold of Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia, Roberts says, 'I will be my own man.'

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/4847085/4847960" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

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