The John Roberts' Vote

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Thursday will be the Senate confirmation vote on Judge John Roberts (search). It is expected that he will be confirmed and sworn in as our next chief justice of the United States Supreme Court. This is a huge event — the Supreme Court has enormous impact on our daily lives even if it may not seem so.

The challenge for us is to program our show — how much do we do tonight about the vote? Do we do anything tonight? Wait until tomorrow night? Do both nights? Since the vote is now obvious — he will be confirmed — do viewers care beyond the fact that it occurs?

We could analyze the Senate votes — which senator voted for him, and which did not — but that is sometimes "inside the Beltway (search)" discussion which does not always interest or matter to the millions of Americans outside the Beltway. (By the way, for those who have never been to Washington, D.C., the Beltway is the highway that circles Washington, D.C., and thus the term "inside the Beltway.") Of course there may be great interest in how your own senator votes but your hometown newspaper will carry that and will hopefully analyze it on the editorial page.

Some senators will be accused of making a decision about how to vote based on political aspirations (whether he or she wants to run for president or curry favor with a particular constituency.) Others will decide how to vote purely on conscience — what he or she thinks is best for our country and whether Judge Roberts is the one for the job. And even those who vote based on conscience will be accused of voting for selfish political reasons.

Getting into the political food fight about motivations for votes may not be something our viewers at 10 p.m. want to hear — but it is impossible for us to judge as we prepare for the show. As we wind through the day, there will be many discussions among our staff about what we should or should not do, and how much we should or should not do on the Senate vote. Bottom line, of course, is that with our subject programming we will please some, but not all. All we can promise the viewer is that we have thought about it — not just reacted. It may turn out that we decide to wait until tomorrow night, after the vote, to talk about it.

The last time we did a few segments on Judge Roberts, we tried to do something different from other news show. We had two former U.S. Supreme Court clerks on the show — Ken Starr (search) and Susan Estrich. Rather than getting caught up in the abortion debate, which seems to consume many when discussing the Court these days, we attempted to get more "behind the scenes." You can only get that from those who have been there.

I know that I had my question answered by both. I had wondered if it truly makes a difference who is the chief justice if he or she only has one vote like the other eight. Both said it did and explained why. I am now convinced it does matter.

I am not sure what we can do at this point to help find Natalee Holloway (search)... do any of you have an idea? It seems like the investigation has hit the proverbial brick wall. I hope I am wrong... it would not be the first time. Every day my e-mail box is lined with requests from viewers for updates on the investigation, to the exclusion of other topics.

E-mail No. 1

Poor Shep out in the wind,
Took a tumble and got back up again,
Back to reporting the hurricane news,
Next time put some lead in his shoes!
V. Darrow
West Edmeston, New York

E-mail No. 2

Please tell us how tourism is in Aruba as of today. I wonder IF people are still going there. HOW could they... I would certainly not want my children to go there... I see on line that they have some great prices on trips there... wonder why?????????????? Stay on top of this story please. ONE of these days Van der Sloot WILL blow his mouth off. I hope you are there when he does... We appreciate you...
Gail Berry

E-mail No. 3

Greta, Greta, Greta,
Thank you for the Anna Nicole Smith (search) piece last night. I had a rough day and there was nothing like tuning into your show and seeing the Anna Nicole clips gracing my TV. Not sure as to what your conversation was about as my mind was on other things. I will now watch On the Record faithfully. Thanks again.

E-mail No. 4


I am appalled that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear Anna Nicole Smith's case to get money!!! Is this the same Supreme Court that refused to hear Terri Schiavo's case?? I think we need to throw them all out and replace them ALL!!

You did a great job during Rita — that takes a lot of guts!
Patty Willason

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