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Roberts answers questions on civil rights, torture, foreign law as precedent

[JURIST] Following up on earlier questions about abortion [JURIST report], members of the US Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday pressed Chief Justice nominee John Roberts [JURIST news archive] for his views on civil rights, torture, and the use of foreign law as precedent. Challenged by Senator Edward Kennedy on his allegedly lukewarm views of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, Roberts said "the existing Votings Rights Act, the constitutionality has been upheld. And I don't have any issue with that." In response to questions on torture [JURIST report], Roberts answered that not even the President was above the law if he were to authorize its use. Roberts also said there was no force of precedent from foreign law [AP report] despite the Court's recent holding in Roper v. Simmons [opinion] which used foreign law in ruling that the death penalty cannot be used against minors. Roberts argued that this was a "misuse" and "not a correct use" of precedent. The nominee repeatedly said he would use stare decisis and draw on precedent when making decisions if he were confirmed as Chief Justice, though Roberts also said that sometimes, such as in the landmark public-school segregation case Brown v. Board of Education [backgrounder], overruling precedent is sometimes the correct path to take. The New York Times has more. A transcript of Tuesday's hearing is available from the Washington Post. The Judiciary Committee will resume [witness list] its consideration of the Roberts nomination Wednesday morning at 9 AM ET.

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