Mixed Reviews for High Court Nominee

Following are statements about President Bush's nomination of U.S. Court of Appeals Judge John Roberts to the Supreme Court:

President Bush: "In my meetings with Judge Roberts, I have been deeply impressed. He's a man of extraordinary accomplishment and ability. He has a good heart. He has the qualities Americans expect in a judge: experience, wisdom, fairness and civility.

"He has profound respect for the rule of law and for the liberties guaranteed to every citizen. He will strictly apply the Constitution in laws, not legislate from the bench."

Judge John Roberts: "It is both an honor and very humbling to be nominated to serve on the Supreme Court. Before I became a judge, my law practice consisted largely of arguing cases before the court. That experience left me with a profound appreciation for the role of the court in our constitutional democracy and a deep regard for the court as an institution."

Retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor: "I have watched Judge Roberts since he has been an advocate before our court, and I and my colleagues have been enormously impressed with his scholarship and his skills. He's earned an excellent reputation as a lawyer, so I think he's very well qualified... I am disappointed, in a sense, to see the percentage of women on our court drop by 50 percent, but I can't be disappointed in the quality of person nominated. He's first rate."

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), chairman of the Judiciary Committee: "I can assure you that the hearings will be full, fair and complete."

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee: "Above all, we need to ensure that the Supreme Court remains a protector of all Americans' rights and liberties from government intrusion, and that the Supreme Court understands the role of Congress in passing legislation to protect ordinary Americans from abuse by powerful special interests...

"A preliminary review of Judge Roberts' record suggests areas of significant concern that need exploration. We need to consider his service on the circuit court, although that is quite limited. We need to understand how he will exercise the judicial power of the United States and whether he will respect precedent."

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV): "I am confident that Chairman Specter and Ranking Member Leahy will ensure a thorough review of Judge Roberts's record and his views. Clearly a judicial nominee should not comment on pending cases, but there are many other questions a nominee should answer. I encourage Judge Roberts to be forthcoming in responding to the Committee's questions and in providing written materials requested by senators.

"In the end, Judge Roberts must demonstrate to the Senate that he is a worthy successor to Justice O'Connor. To do that, he must win the confidence of the American people that he will be a reliable defender of their constitutional rights. John Roberts has argued many cases in his career, but this is the most important."

Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA), member of the Judiciary Committee: "I will not pre-judge the president's nominee. And I will not decide whether to support or oppose him based on any single issue.

"What all Americans deserve to know is whether Judge Roberts respects the core values of the Constitution and falls within the conservative mainstream of America, along the lines of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

"That is the issue, and I look forward to asking the important questions that are on the minds of Americans as they consider his nomination to our nation's highest court."

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), member of the Judiciary Committee: "Judge Roberts is an exceptional judge, brilliant legal mind, and a man of outstanding character who understands his profound duty to follow the law. He has enjoyed a distinguished history of public service and professional achievement. It is clear to me that Judge Roberts' history has prepared him well for the honor of serving this country on our nation's highest Court, and I strongly support his nomination."

Troy Newman, president of the pro-life group Operation Rescue: "We're thrilled. He believes that the Constitution is not a living and breathing document and [is] a man that will look at it and say that a woman does not have the right to kill her child."

Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America: "We are extremely disappointed that President Bush has chosen such a divisive nominee for the highest court in the nation, rather than a consensus nominee who would protect individual liberty and uphold Roe v. Wade. President Bush has consciously chosen the path of confrontation, and he should know that we, and the 65 percent of Americans who support Roe, are ready for the battle ahead."

Julian Bond, executive director of the NAACP: "President Bush would not have chosen this man unless he understood he would follow this radical judicial philosophy that's shared only by the court's two most militant members, Scalia and Thomas."

Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, a conservative legal watchdog group: "By almost all accounts John Roberts is a brilliant, thoughtful conservative justice who will remain faithful to the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law. Moreover, Judge Roberts seems to have the experience and the strength of character to help lead the court away from judicial activism and towards a more conservative, restrained jurisprudence."

Morris Dees, founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center: "We've depended on the United States Supreme Court to give a progressive and liberal interpretation [on] human rights. Who knows what would happen if Rehnquist and Scalia and Roberts and Thomas [are] on the court when they decide whether a person should have a right to legal counsel? We have to think — what would it be like as a nation with our civil rights if we had those type people on the court for the last 40 years?"

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