Judge John Roberts

President Bush has selected appeals court Judge John Roberts to fill the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy left by the retiring Sandra Day O’Connor.

Announcing his decision at the White House, Bush said Roberts fit the qualifications for a Supreme Court nominee, “a person of superb credentials and the highest integrity; a person who will faithfully apply the Constitution and keep our founding promise of equal justice under law.”

The president said that before Roberts joined the D.C. Court of Appeals, he “was known as one of the most distinguished and talented attorneys in America.”

“John Roberts has devoted his entire professional life to the cause of justice and is widely admired for his intellect, his sound judgment, and personal decency,” Bush said.

Notably, Roberts co-wrote a Supreme Court brief for the first Bush administration arguing the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that overturned state laws banning abortion was wrongly decided.

But in his confirmation hearing for the D.C. Circuit, he pointed out he was an advocate for the government and that as a lower court judge, he would recognize the decision as “settled law.”

Roberts, 50, was appointed to the D.C. Circuit in 2003 by Bush. He also was nominated by the president’s father but never received a Senate vote.

Before his appointment, he practiced at Hogan & Hartson from 1986 to 1989 and 1993-2003.

He served as principal deputy solicitor general in the first Bush administration.

During the Reagan administration, he served as a special assistant to the attorney general from 1981 to 1982 and as associate counsel to the president from 1982 to 1986.

Roberts attended Harvard College and Harvard Law School and clerked for Judge Henry Friendly on the 2nd Circuit and for Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

Roberts is married with two children.

At a news conference today, President Bush told reporters, “I’ll let you know when I’m ready to tell you who it is. … I’m confident about where we are in the process.”

Commenting on the type of person he would choose, the president said, “I do have an obligation to think about people from different backgrounds, but who share the same philosophy, people who will not legislate from the bench.”

Bush said yesterday his “desire is to get this process moving so that someone will be confirmed – whoever he or she is – will be confirmed by October” when the court reconvenes.

With interest groups from both left and right poised for action, speculation in Washington earlier today centered on Judge Edith Clement of the U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

According to The Hill newspaper, White House officials assured select conservative leaders that they would not nominate Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

The paper said the message filtered out to conservative activists that Gonzales, whom many activists believe would be too liberal on abortion and racial preference issues, was no longer a threat to their cause.

Other names under consideration were Edith Jones, also a member of the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; Maura Corrigan of the Michigan Supreme Court; Cecilia M. Altonaga, a U.S. District Court judge for the Southern District of Florida; a Harvard Law School Professor Mary Ann Glendon; Karen Williams of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va.

Two recently confirmed judges also were mentioned — Janice Rogers Brown of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and Priscilla Owen of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

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