Skip to comments.For top court, Bush picks conservative - "Harvard-educated white man"
Posted on 07/20/2005 1:47:13 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
WASHINGTON - President Bush nominated conservative appellate Judge John G. Roberts Jr. for the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday night, calling him "one of the best legal minds of his generation."
Bush, making one of the most significant decisions of his presidency, said in a televised address that Roberts "has the qualities Americans expect in a judge: experience, wisdom, fairness and civility."
The selection of Roberts, a former law clerk to Chief Justice William Rehnquist and an aide in the Reagan White House, won praise from Republicans and skepticism from Democrats.
Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said Roberts had "sharp partisan credentials that cannot be ignored."
For Bush, the choice is an opportunity to leave his mark on the nation's highest court, the one branch of government that has eluded conservatives. With a lifetime appointment, the 50-year-old Roberts could serve for decades.
If confirmed, Roberts could change the direction of the court because he would replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, the swing vote on important cases about abortion, school vouchers and affirmative action.
Bush did not mention those issues in his remarks Tuesday night, but he said Roberts "will strictly apply the Constitution in laws, not legislate from the bench," language that Republicans often use to describe conservative, antiabortion judges.
The selection of the Harvard-educated white man in place of O'Connor, the first woman on the nation's highest court, could open Bush to criticism that he did not do enough for diversity.
White House aides said Bush considered a range of nominees, including people who had not been judges. When the president flew to Europe two weeks ago, he took a notebook with information on 11 candidates and ultimately interviewed five.
"He interviewed women, he was considering minorities at the highest level, on the very shortest of lists," said Dan Bartlett, counselor to the president. But Bush decided Roberts was the strongest candidate.
Roberts is well-connected in Republican circles, having worked as a young associate counsel under President Ronald Reagan and as a deputy solicitor general under the first President Bush. In that job, one of the most coveted in the legal profession, he argued 39 cases on behalf of the federal government before the Supreme Court.
Roberts, who joined Bush at the White House for the announcement, said he was humbled by the opportunity to serve on the nation's highest court.
"I always got a lump in my throat whenever I walked up those marble steps to argue a case before the court, and I don't think it was just from the nerves," he said.
In his role as a deputy solicitor general, Roberts once challenged the court's decision in the landmark abortion case Roe vs. Wade. Roberts helped write a brief that stated, "We continue to believe that Roe was wrongly decided and should be overruled." Yet in his 2003 confirmation hearing, he said he considered Roe the "settled law of the land," a line used by many appellate nominees to indicate their respect for Supreme Court decisions.
He and his wife, Jane Sullivan Roberts, have two adopted children, Jack and Josie. He has been a federal appellate judge in the District of Columbia Circuit since 2003.
The announcement was well-timed.
By waiting until 9 p.m. to introduce his nominee on national TV, Bush not only got a large TV audience, he minimized the impact of Democrats and liberal groups, which had to scramble to release statements about the nominee.
It is unusual for presidents to announce their nominees in a nighttime address. The last president to do so was President Richard Nixon in 1969, when he nominated Warren Burger to be chief justice, according to Don Ritchie, a historian at the U.S. Senate.
The nomination is likely to divert attention from the controversy about Karl Rove, the senior White House adviser criticized for identifying CIA operative Valerie Plame to a reporter. Democrats said the timing looked suspicious.
"It's interesting how the subject has changed," said Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid. The announcement "was going to be next week. Now it's this week."
The choice of Roberts was one of Washington's best-kept secrets. For much of Tuesday, the Capitol was abuzz that Bush would choose Edith Clement, a federal appeals judge from New Orleans.
But the buzz faded when ABC News reported on its Web site, "SOURCE TELLS ABC NEWS THAT JUDGE EDITH CLEMENT IS NOT PRESIDENT BUSH'S CHOICE FOR SUPREME COURT."
Even the Drudge Report, a favorite Web site for Republican leaks, didn't get the scoop. "WHO?" asked the Drudge headline in the late afternoon and early evening.
Nominees take office immediately after confirmation and being sworn in. Bush has said he wants to have the confirmation before the court's new term begins in October, but O'Connor said in her resignation that she would stay on the job until someone is confirmed.
Bush interviewed the five candidates last Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Roberts had to fly to the interview from London, where he was teaching a class.
Bush had met Roberts at a White House event in 2001 but apparently did not know him well and wanted to interview him along with four other finalists.
Bartlett said the interviews were important to Bush because "he likes to size people up himself, make his own judgment. What he wanted to do was make sure the person matched the resume."
They spoke for about an hour in the relaxed confines of the White House living quarters, with presidential dogs Barney and Miss Beazley at their feet.
Bush made his final decision Tuesday morning and called Roberts in the early afternoon to offer him the appointment. After Roberts accepted, Bush returned to a luncheon he was having with the prime minister of Australia, his wife, and first lady Laura Bush. Bush said, "I just offered the job to a great, smart 50-year-old lawyer who has agreed to serve on the bench."
Times researchers John Martin, Cathy Wos and Caryn Baird contributed to this report.
LIBERALS don't care about a justice that is a women, a black, a hispanic, etc. they only want progressives/LIBERALS on "their" court.
Not enough for diversity? But Harvard is one of the most liberal places in the country. That's the "diversity" part of the equation - Harvard. It's a split ticket.
The rats are going to trash this guy?
Anybody who thinks this is going to be a big political battle, just think USC-Oklahoma in last year's Orange Bowl. Click the link to see which side is USC.
President Bush introduces his nominee for the Supreme Court, John G. Roberts Jr., left, as his son John, dances, and wife Jane and daughter Josephine, look on in the State Dining Room at the White House, Tuesday, July 19, 2005, in Washington. President Bush chose federal appeals court judge John G. Roberts Jr. on Tuesday as his first nominee for the Supreme Court, selecting a rock solid conservative whose nomination could trigger a tumultuous battle over the direction of the nation's highest court. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
I can hear the MoveOn libs screaming now:
"We need a homeless, transgendered, mutant, Hare Krishna, dumspter diving terrorist for diversity on the Supreme Court."
Roberts is a more than beautiful pick by G.W.
This is going to be fun watching Schmuckie, Leahy, Chappaquiddick Fats, and others make themselves look like eternal fools trying to trash this good man! This is a beautiful morning!
US President George W. Bush (C) announces Federal appeals court judge John G. Roberts Jr. (L) as his first Supreme Court nominee during a prime-time speech at the White House in Washington, as Roberts' wife Jane (2nd R), duaghter Josephine (R) and son John look on. Bush nominated the conservative Roberts to the US Supreme Court, a move that may shape battles on controversial issues like abortion for decades. Roberts, 50, has been a judge in the federal court of appeals in Washington since 2003 and is considered a conservative Republican.(AFP/Jim Watson)
John Kerry tests the new "Homeland Security" aerial reconnaissance
mini jet pack which conveniently doubles as an iPod.
Son John asking for a few more of the President's pretzels.
Here's a little sampler of left wing moonbat reaction to Roberts nomination -- I am laughing so hard, I have tears. I almost shut down to go home, and then I saw this. Thank you for the hilarious post.
|John Roberts: A home run for the president, the SCOTUS, and for the United States [Hugh Hewitt]|
From the people who would have criticized him either way.
The Court is slipping from their grasp and they're going to pull out all stops to trash this man.
No wonder so few good people serve in government.
Bush may have the opportunity to select another SC Justice before the summer is over.
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