Wednesday, July 20, 2005
President Bush nominated Judge John Roberts to replace Justice O'Connor last night. The New York Times provides some background here and further analysis by Llinda Greenhouse here. According to the Times,
Instead, word came shortly before 8 p.m. that Mr. Bush's choice was Judge Roberts, 50, a summa cum laude graduate of Harvard College, former managing editor of the Harvard Law Review and clerk to William H. Rehnquist, who was then an associate justice on the Supreme Court. Since 2003, Judge Roberts has served on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, to which he was confirmed by unanimous consent of the Senate.
Mr. Bush has made no secret of his desire to impose a more conservative stamp on the Supreme Court, and he apparently named Mr. Roberts with confidence that he would help him do so.
Almost instantly, the conservative and liberal interest groups that have spent years preparing for a Supreme Court vacancy swung into action.
The conservative Progress for America called Judge Roberts a "terrific nominee," while Naral Pro-Choice America denounced him as an "unsuitable choice," and a "divisive nominee with a record of seeking to impose a political agenda on the courts."
But significantly, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader of the body that will determine Judge Roberts's fate, was much more subdued, hewing to the Democrats' stated strategy of demanding a thorough vetting of any nominee by describing Judge Roberts as "someone with suitable legal credentials," whose record must now be examined "to determine if he has a demonstrated commitment to the core American values of freedom, equality and fairness."
In his campaign for the presidency five years ago, Mr. Bush pledged to appoint judges like Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, staunch conservatives with well-established judicial philosophies.
While Judge Roberts has impeccable Republican credentials and a record of service in the Reagan and first Bush administrations dating to 1981, his paper trail of opinions is comparatively thin, and he is not seen as a "movement conservative."
There is much more information on the web about Judge Roberts. Here is some information from the Washington Post, Judicial Selection, Slate (scroll down a bit and SCOTUSblog. For a liberal critique, see the Alliance for Justice overview here and for some conservative views, see Volokh. [bm]