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Bush picks hard-line conservative John G. Roberts for Supreme Court

Bush picks hard-line conservative John G. Roberts for Supreme Court

President Bush chose federal appeals court judge John G. Roberts Jr. on Tuesday as his first nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, selecting a rock-solid conservative whose nomination could trigger a tumultuous battle over the direction of the nation's highest court, a senior administration official said. Bush offered the position to Roberts in a telephone call at 12:35 p.m., after a luncheon with the visiting prime minister of Australia, John Howard. He made the announcement later in a nationally broadcast speech to the nation. Roberts has been on the U.S. court of appeals for the District of Columbia circuit since June 2003 after being picked for that seat by Bush. Advocacy groups on the right say that Roberts, a 50-year-old native of Buffalo, N.Y., who attended Harvard Law School, is a bright judge with strong conservative credentials he burnished in the administrations of former presidents Bush and Reagan. While he has been a federal judge for just a little more than two years, legal experts say that whatever experience he lacks on the bench is offset by his many years arguing cases before the Supreme Court. Liberal groups, however, say Roberts has taken positions in cases involving free speech and religious liberty that endanger those rights. Abortion rights groups allege that Roberts is hostile to women's reproductive freedom and cite a brief he cowrote in 1990 that suggested the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 high court decision that legalized abortion. According the the gay rights group Human Rights Campaign, Roberts's known record includes: - As deputy solicitor general in the Reagan administration, he co-authored a brief arguing that Roe v. Wade was "wrongly decided and should be overruled." He also said that the court's conclusion that there is a right to abortion "finds no support in the text, structure, or history of the Constitution." - As deputy solicitor general, Roberts co-authored an amicus brief urging the high court to rule that it was constitutional for a public school to sponsor prayer at graduation ceremonies. The court rejected this view in a 5-4 decision. - As a D.C. circuit judge, Roberts dissented from the denial of en banc review of a case in which the court upheld the Endangered Species Act. In other words, he would have held that Congress did not have the power to enact this important statute. Such reasoning, HRC argued, could easily be applied to to the denial of laws protecting gays and lesbians from discrimination. Check back with for regular updates on the pending confirmation battle.

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