.- Since Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s announcement of retirement two weeks ago, Washington has been waiting with baited breath for President Bush’s decision on a nominee to replace her. Last night, with the announcement of Judge John Roberts, many pro-lifers are rejoicing, while those on the opposite side of the abortion debate seem poised for battle. O’Connor had historically been a swing vote on many pro-life and religious freedom issues and many watchers think that her replacement could play a pivotal role in the possible overturning of Roe vs. Wade.
Reverend Rob Schneck, president of the National Clergy Council joined with religious leaders across the capital in praising the president’s pick.
“The nomination of Judge John G. Roberts”, he said, “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."
Fr. Frank Pavone, President of Priests for Life said: "I am thrilled that the President has kept his promise by selecting a nominee who understands the importance of strictly adhering to the Constitution.”
"The President's selection of Judge John G. Roberts, Jr.”, he said, “shows that he has a fundamental understanding of the types of judges that we need on the Supreme Court, judges who understand the difference between applying law and rewriting law. I look 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."
Jan LaRue, Chief Counsel for Concerned Women for America said that, "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…That's why the President nominated him to the D.C. Circuit. He clerked for Rehnquist, which says a lot."
While many are fearing a Democratic filibuster which could block the nomination, as has been done with some of President Bush’s past judicial nominees, LaRue said, “No reasonable person can claim that Judge Roberts is ‘out-of- the-mainstream’ or that his judicial philosophy or record constitutes ‘extraordinary circumstances’ that would justify Democrats engaging in an abusive filibuster in order to deny him an up-or-down vote.”
“The confirmation process should occur without partisan political rancor and be in keeping with the dignity of the Court,” she said.
Washington’s National Right to Life Committee is mote skeptical however. “Liberal pressure groups will insist that Senate Democrats filibuster against Judge Roberts, unless he pledges in advance to vote against allowing elected legislators to place meaningful limits on abortion," said NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson. "Millions of Americans will be watching to see if the Democratic senators bow to these demands."
Others aren’t so satisfied with the president’s pick. The group NARAL Pro Choice America, the largest pro-abortion organization, said last night that, “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.”