September 6, 2005
President Bush's pick for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts, was supposed to start his confirmation hearings today. Senators have now agreed to put them on hold.
Due to Chief Justice William Rehnquist's funeral, John Roberts' confirmation hearing is going to be pushed back, possibly until Thursday.
Despite two days of ceremony marking the passing of Chief Justice William Rehnquist, the President moved quickly to nominate his replacement.
"Both those who worked with him and those who have faced him in the courtroom speak with admiration of this striking ability as a lawyer and his natural gifts as a leader," said President Bush.
Promoting Judge Roberts puts him in the footsteps of his most influential mentor.
"I would succeed a man I deeply respect and admire, a man who has been very kind to me for 25 years," said Judge John Roberts.
Roberts, who served as Rehnquist's law clerk 25 years ago, is no stranger to the other justices on the high court. As an attorney he argued 39 cases before them. Now, nominated for the center seat, Roberts stands to face closer scrutiny in his confirmation.
"Whenever Roberts' hearing goes forward, I think a critical part of Roberts' vote count so to speak will be to see how he performs at the hearing," said Sen. Harry Reid, (D) Nevada.
But it still leaves a second vacancy on the court. However, Justice Sandra Day O'connor agreed she will stay until her replacement is confirmed. Democrats said they would like to know the president's choice to replace O'connor before they vote on Roberts' confirmation.
"It would be helpful to the American people and to the Senate in ascertaining whether a dramatic new direction is proposed in the Supreme Court of the United States," said Sen. Charles Schumer, (D) New York.
President Bush is under pressure to hire a woman or a minority, and whichever he chooses, to do it as soon as possible. President Bush wants the Senate to confirm Justice O'Connor's replacement before the new Court term begins on October 3rd.