Dems Want More Roberts Documents

U.S. Supreme Court nominee John Roberts, left, meets with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., at her office on Capitol Hill, Monday, July 25, 2005, in Washington.
Supreme Court nominee John Roberts gave assurances he wouldn't be an activist if confirmed, a key Democrat who already was leaning toward supporting him said Thursday.

"I don't see anything that's going to be disturbing" in his record, Sen. Ben Nelson told reporters after a 30-minute meeting with President Bush's choice to succeed Sandra Day O'Connor on the high court.

Democrats have been pushing to review as many of Roberts' writings as possible, hoping to gain a better understanding of his personal views and the extent to which he might seek to inject them into his judicial rulings.

"He said he would not be an activist judge," Nelson said.

Roberts, in his second week of visiting key senators, and declined to answer questions from reporters in advance of his televised confirmation process before the Judiciary Committee. "I don't think it would be appropriate," said Roberts, took part in a picture-taking session with Nelson after their meeting.

Nelson, D-Neb., is one of the leaders of the "Gang of 14," seven Republicans and seven Democrats who averted a Senate showdown over Bush's lower-court judicial nominees earlier this year. They agreed in May to oppose attempts by GOP leaders to change filibuster procedures. They also signed a pact not to filibuster judicial nominees except in extraordinary circumstances.

"I have not seen anything that rises to that level," Nelson said.

While Nelson is "leaning yes" on Roberts' nomination, he said he would reserve final judgment until after confirmation hearings. "It's the unexpected that comes out in the hearings," he said.

Meanwhile, Democrats are calling for the release of more of Roberts' paperwork as a government lawyer before his confirmation hearings begin, saying the Bush administration's withholding of those documents may cause a delay in getting Roberts confirmed to replace O'Connor.

Republicans insist the demands for documents are misguided.

"They don't have anything on him now, but they're still digging and hoping," said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, one of Roberts' most vocal boosters.

The White House says its Tuesday release of documents from Roberts' time in the Reagan administration should be sufficient for the Senate to confirm him before the Supreme Court begins its new term October 3.

But Judiciary Democrats say they need more than what the Bush administration has given them to judge Roberts properly.