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Roberts Resists Specifics in Senate Session

Chief justice nominee John Roberts takes questions from senators seeking definitive answers on legal issues -- from abortion to the environment to stopping a war -- during his confirmation hearings.

Roberts steadfastly answered with general views on legal principles, but he refused to say whether, for example, he would vote to overturn or restrict abortion rights.

Monday, Roberts told the committee a judge should be like a baseball umpire, and should not pitch or bat. In Tuesday's session, Sen. Biden invoked Roberts' metaphor on baseball, said that questioning the nominee was like pitching to Cincinnati Reds slugger Ken Griffey Jr.

If confirmed, Roberts would become the 17th chief justice in the nation's history.

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Nina Totenberg is NPR's award-winning legal affairs correspondent. Her reports air regularly on NPR's critically acclaimed newsmagazines All Things Considered, Morning Edition, and Weekend Edition.