Judge John Roberts: brief profile of a Catholic Supreme Court nominee

.- With President Bush’s Tuesday nomination of Judge John Roberts to replace Justice Sandra Day O’Connor--historically seen as a swing voter on life and religious freedom issues--on the Supreme Court, people on all sides of the culture wars are looking to see what kind of judge the potential 109th justice will be.

The 50-year old Judge Roberts, who is married with two children, is a practicing Catholic and a 1979 graduate of Harvard Law School. Following law school, from which he graduated magna cum laude, Roberts clerked for well-respected Judge Henry Friendly on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and also Justice William Rehnquist on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Roberts also served for some time in the Regan administration, particularly as Associate White House Counsel, and from 1989-93, served as Principal Deputy Solicitor General--the government’s second highest ranking lawyer before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Having argued some 39 cases before the Supreme Court in his government practice and as a partner with the firm, Hogan and Hartson, Roberts has been described by various law journals as “one of [the Supreme Court’s] finest practitioners,” and “one of the top appellate lawyers of his generation.”

In 2003, he was nominated to the Washington DC Circuit Court of Appeals, where he received wide, bi-partisan support and on which he currently sits.

Samuel B. Casey, Executive Director of the Christian Legal Society said that, "John Roberts is well-known and respected as a 'lawyer's lawyer.' He is considered by many who practice before the Supreme Court to be one of the finest appellate advocates in the country."

Gregory Baylor, director of CLS’s Center for Law and Religious Freedom, added that "We are particularly pleased that Judge Roberts, by virtue of his public service and private practice, has an excellent working knowledge of the provisions of our Constitution that protect our first and most vital liberties of free speech, association and religious free exercise."

Even Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who holds the seat Roberts may fill called the nomination “first rate”, saying that, “I have watched Judge Roberts since he has been an advocate before our court, and I and my colleagues have been enormously impressed with his scholarship and his skills…He's earned an excellent reputation as a lawyer, so I think he's very well qualified."

While Roberts has not expressed his personal views on abortion, many pro-life advocates are optimistic that he will not cater to pro-abortion interest groups and will simply uphold the law, which should, they say, protect the right to life in all circumstances.

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