President George W. Bush (R) announced last night that he will nominate Judge John Roberts Jr. to fill the first vacancy on the United States Supreme Court in eleven years. If confirmed, Roberts would take the seat currently held by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who announced on July 1 that she would step down from the highest court under U.S. law.
Roberts currently serves as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, and his confirmation to that court was held up for two years by Democrats in the Senate. As an attorney, Roberts has argued 39 cases before the Supreme Court. Conservatives have already begun lauding the nominee as a strict-constructionist who will faithfully interpret the Constitution and laws of the United States. Some liberals—including some pro-abortion groups—have also begun to criticize Bush’s choice.
Under the U.S. Constitution, presidents must appoint members of the federal judiciary and Supreme Court with the advice and consent of the Senate. Minority parties in the Senate have increasingly used the filibuster to interrupt that process. Roberts’s confirmation hearings are expected to begin after Labor Day.