President Bush has nominated appeals court judge John Roberts to be the next chief justice of the United States.
Mr. Bush made the announcement less than 48 hours after Chief Justice William Rehnquist died at age 80. Mr. Bush says Judge Roberts has many of the same qualities of Justice Rehnquist, who he once clerked for. Mr. Bush says he expects the confirmation process for Judge Roberts to move quickly. He was already under consideration to fill the Supreme Court vacancy of retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. But the Senate Judiciary Committee has postponed his confirmation hearings until at least Thursday following Justice Rehnquist's death.
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, says his colleagues "must be vigilant" in examining the Roberts nomination. But Republican Majority Leader Bill Frist called Judge Roberts an "excellent choice" to lead the nation's highest court. He said he expects the Senate to confirm Mr. Roberts by the time the court reconvenes October 3rd.