In his 2005 Senate confirmation hearing, John Roberts famously — and as it turned out, falsely — compared the job he would perform as chief justice to the role of a baseball umpire, declaring: “I will be open to the considered views of my colleagues on the bench, and I will decide every case based on the record, according to the rule of law, without fear or favor, to the best of my ability, and I will remember that it’s my job to call balls and strikes, and not to pitch or bat.”

The Senate voted to confirm Roberts as the 17th chief justice of the Supreme Court on Sept. 29, 2005, by a vote of 78-22.

Far from being a neutral umpire on the bench, however, Roberts has presided over a court that has moved rapidly and decisively to the right. Although he is widely considered the most moderate conservative member on the current court, he has written the majority opinions for some of the panel’s most reactionary rulings. These include Shelby County v. Holder (2013), which gutted the Voting Rights Act, and Rucho v. Common Cause (2019), which held that partisan gerrymandering claims are beyond the reach of federal courts.

You can view the first day of Roberts’ confirmation hearing here or by clicking on the video below. To hear the “balls and strikes” metaphor, fast forward approximately to 3:31.

Wait, before you go…

If you're reading this, you probably already know that non-profit, independent journalism is under threat worldwide. Independent news sites are overshadowed by larger heavily funded mainstream media that inundate us with hype and noise that barely scratch the surface.  We believe that our readers deserve to know the full story. Truthdig writers bravely dig beneath the headlines to give you thought-provoking, investigative reporting and analysis that tells you what’s really happening and who’s rolling up their sleeves to do something about it.

Like you, we believe a well-informed public that doesn’t have blind faith in the status quo can help change the world. Your contribution of as little as $5 monthly or $35 annually will make you a groundbreaking member and lays the foundation of our work.

Support Truthdig