President George W. Bush (R) today nominated John Roberts Jr. to become the next Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court following the death of Chief Justice William Rehnquist. Roberts had previously been nominated to fill an associate justice vacancy left by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who announced her retirement in July. Roberts’s Senate confirmation hearings for that position were originally scheduled to begin tomorrow, and he was expected to be confirmed.

With Roberts now nominated for the position of chief justice, President Bush will need to make a new nomination for associate justice.

Roberts is generally viewed as ideologically similar to Rehnquist. Bush, in announcing the nomination, said, “It is fitting that a great chief justice be followed in office by a person who shared his deep reverence for the Constitution, his profound respect for the Supreme Court and his complete devotion to the cause of justice.”

Rehnquist died at the age of 80 from complications related to thyroid cancer.