Senate Confirms Roberts as Supreme Court Chief Justice
The Senate on Thursday approved 78-22 the nomination of 50-year-old Judge John Roberts as the Supreme Court's 17th chief justice, and he was sworn in later in the day by Justice John Paul Stevens, the Washington Post reports. All 55 Senate Republicans, 22 Democrats and independent Sen. Jim Jeffords (Vt.) voted to confirm Roberts, while 22 Democrats opposed the nomination (Babington/Baker, Washington Post, 9/30).
Roberts said, "I view the vote this morning as confirmation of what is for me a bedrock principle: that judging is different from politics" (Hurt, Washington Times, 9/30).
President Bush said Roberts "will be prudent in exercising judicial power, firm in defending judicial independence and, above all, a faithful guardian of the Constitution" (Washington Post, 9/30). Bush first nominated Roberts in July to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, but later nominated him to be chief justice after Chief Justice William Rehnquist died of thyroid cancer on Sept. 3. O'Connor has agreed to remain on the court until her successor is confirmed, and Bush has yet to nominate someone for the post (California Healthline, 9/6).
Roberts is the youngest chief justice since John Marshall was confirmed at age 45 in 1801, and, with a lifetime appointment, he could influence decisions on cases involving issues such as abortion rights for decades, according to the Los Angeles Times (Reynolds, Los Angeles Times, 9/30).
An "early picture" of Roberts' judicial philosophy is expected to be revealed by the end of this year, USA Today reports (Biskupic, USA Today, 9/30). The Supreme Court, which opens a new term on Monday, "will be a court in transition," and the 48 cases for which the court already has granted review -- including cases involving parental notification for minors seeking abortion and campaign finance laws -- are "likely to produce vigorous debates among the justices," the New York Times reports (Greenhouse, New York Times, 9/30).
NPR's "Talk of the Nation" on Thursday reported on Roberts' confirmation and issues for the Supreme Court's next term. Guests on the program included Joan Biskupic, reporter for USA Today; Clarke Forsythe, director of law and bioethics for Americans United for Life; and David Savage, Supreme Court reporter for the Los Angeles Times (Neary, "Talk of the Nation," NPR, 9/29). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.