Judge John Roberts

While conservatives almost universally have praised President Bush’s nomination of appeals Judge John Roberts to the U.S. Supreme Court, columnist Ann Coulter calls the pick a “stealth” choice that could turn out to be a disappointment in the vein of the elder Bush’s selection of Justice David Souter.

“We don’t know much about John Roberts,” Coulter writes in a column today. “Stealth nominees have never turned out to be a pleasant surprise for conservatives. Never. Not ever.”

Coulter, herself a constitutional attorney, says that the fact Roberts wrote a brief arguing for the repeal of Roe v. Wade when he worked for Republican administrations means nothing.

“He was arguing on behalf of his client, the United States of America,” Coulter says.

Roberts has disassociated himself from those cases,” she points out, dropping a footnote to a 1994 law review article that said: “In the interest of full disclosure, the author would like to point out that as Deputy Solicitor General for a portion of the 1992-93 Term, he was involved in many of the cases discussed below. In the interest of even fuller disclosure, he would also like to point out that his views as a commentator on those cases do not necessarily reflect his views as an advocate for his former client, the United States.”

Coulter says “it makes no difference that conservatives in the White House are assuring us Roberts can be trusted.”

“We got the exact same assurances from officials working for the last president Bush about David Hackett Souter,” she says. “I believe their exact words were, ‘Read our lips; Souter’s a reliable conservative.'”

Announcing his decision at the White House last night, 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.

A host of leaders from conservative interest groups immediately echoed the president:

  • James Dobson, founder and chairman of Focus on the Family Action, said Bush “is to be commended for keeping his promise to the American people by selecting such an impartial, accomplished jurist to fill this crucial seat on the high court.”

    “Judge Roberts is an unquestionably qualified attorney and judge with impressive experience in government and the private sector,” Dobson said. “He has demonstrated at every stop on his career path the legal acumen, judicial temperament and personal integrity necessary to be a Supreme Court justice.

  • Roberta Combs, president of the Christian Coalition of America, said, “We are believing that President Bush kept his campaign promise today when he nominated John Roberts to the Supreme Court. We are trusting that Judge Roberts is in the mold of Supreme Court justices who President Bush promised to appoint to the Supreme Court: such as Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.”

  • Jan LaRue, chief counsel of Christian Women for America, said, “Everything we know about Judge Roberts tells us that he fulfills the president’s promise to nominate a judge who will strictly interpret the Constitution and not legislate from the bench.”

  • Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council, said Bush “has chosen an exceptionally well-qualified and impartial nominee for the Supreme Court.”

    “I believe that Judge Roberts will strictly interpret the Constitution and not legislate from the bench,” Perkins said.

  • Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, which specializes in constitutional law, said Roberts is an “exceptional choice who will bring sound legal reasoning to the high court.”

    “He was one of the most gifted advocates before the high court and has served with distinction on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals,” said Sekulow, who himself has argued frequently before the court.

    “In my dealings with Judge Roberts over the years, I have found him to be a ‘lawyer’s lawyer,’ exhibiting uncommon insight and judgment. A man of character, Judge Roberts understands the Constitution and has a record of applying the law – not legislating from the bench.”

    Sekulow said the ACLJ will begin mobilizing a national campaign to ensure that Roberts is confirmed.

  • Brian Fahling, senior trial attorney for the American Family Association Center for Law & Policy, called Roberts “an extraordinary lawyer” who will be an “exceptional justice.”

    “President Bush, in my opinion, has kept his promise to nominate an individual who will interpret, not rewrite the Constitution,” he said.

  • Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel for the Thomas More Law Center, said, “I applaud President Bush for keeping his promise to the American people to appoint judges who will interpret the law and not act as super legislators. Judge Roberts has an impeccable legal career. If there is going to be fight over the President’s choice for Supreme Court, this is a fight worth joining.”

  • Brad Dacus, president of the Sacramento-based Pacific Justice Institute, said Roberts “has demonstrated his competency in addressing controversial issues with respect for the original intent of the Constitution. He has established a record of putting time-honored legal principles above judicial activism.”

    “Those who respect the Constitution and the proper role of law should welcome him as a valuable addition to the court,” Dacus said. President Bush clearly based his decision on principle over politics, and this nation’s posterity will be the beneficiary of this prudent nominee, should he be ratified by the Senate in keeping with our nation’s long tradition of approving qualified judicial nominees.”

  • Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, said Roberts has shown strong conservative credentials with indications he will not uphold Roe v. Wade

    “We appreciate President Bush being a man of his word by appointing a judge that will respect the right to life acknowledged by our nation’s founding documents,” said Newman. “We pray that Roberts will be swiftly confirmed.”

  • Joe Scheidler of the Pro-Life Action League, said, “John C. Roberts believes in the U.S. Constitution. That’s exactly the kind of judge I want to appear before when I bring my case to the Supreme Court for the third time later this year.”

    Scheidler said that while not much is known about Robert’s views on abortion or Roe v. Wade, “we’re encouraged by his record of integrity, his conservative credentials and the confidence placed in him by so many pro-life leaders.”

  • Rev. Rob Schenck of the National Clergy Council, said the nomination is an “answer to the prayers of millions of Americans.”

    “The president has demonstrated extraordinary moral courage and deserves the full cooperation of the Senate in bringing about a swift confirmation,” Schenck said.

  • Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, said he was “thrilled that the president has kept his promise by selecting a nominee who understands the importance of strictly adhering to the Constitution.”

    The Catholic priest said he looks forward to “working to ensure that Judge John G. Roberts, Jr. is treated fairly and receives a timely up-or-down vote on the floor of the Senate.”

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.

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 yesterday 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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