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Supreme Court nominee John Roberts should not avoid senators’ tough questions at his confirmation hearing next week, Sen. Charles Schumer said Thursday as he argued against using Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as Roberts’ role model for avoiding key issues. Republicans say Ginsburg declined to answer senators’ questions 55 times at her Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, while Justice Stephen Breyer declined to answer questions 18 times. Conservative group Progress for America is running a television advertisement saying “As with Ginsburg, Judge Roberts should not answer questions that force him to prejudge cases.” But Schumer, a New Yorker and member of the Judiciary Committee, argued in a speech Thursday that Ginsburg had a clearer paper trail given her 13 years as a federal appeals judge, and that she was a consensus candidate since President Clinton consulted with Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah before naming her to the court. Roberts became a federal judge in 2003. “If Judge Roberts repeatedly resorts to the so-called ‘Ginsburg Precedent,’ it will sound less like a principled refusal to answer and more like a variation on the Fifth Amendment: ‘I refuse to answer that question on the ground that it may incriminate me. Answering may reveal my actual views about constitutional law and cause me to lose votes,’” said Schumer, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. When asked if an evasive Roberts would cause Democrats to stage a filibuster, Schumer said the hearings will determine the answer. “You have to be at the hearing and see what happens. Now, if he is a Miguel Estrada, and just refuses abjectly to answer everything, it would make a filibuster more likely,” Schumer said. “You can’t rule it out right now, but I wouldn’t say we would definitely do it under this, this or this circumstance. You have to wait and see how Judge Roberts answers questions.” Democrats demanded that former U.S. Appeals Court nominee Estrada publicly answer more of their questions or the White House release Estrada’s working papers from his time at the Justice Department solicitor general’s office. The White House refused, and Democrats were able to sustain a filibuster on Estrada. Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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