John Roberts Is Bush’s Choice for Supreme Court

I caught President Bush’s announcement on the radio driving home from softball practice that he is nominating D.C. Appeals Court Judge John Roberts for the Supreme Court.

Conservative Judge Is Bush’s Choice for High Court (NYT RSS)

President Bush is nominating John G. Roberts Jr., a conservative federal appellate judge from Washington, D.C., to the first vacancy on the Supreme Court in 11 years.

President Bush was to announce the selection of Judge Roberts, who sits on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, on television at 9 p.m. But news of the selection leaked out in advance of the White House ceremony.

News of Judge Roberts’s selection came at the end of a day of whirlwind speculation that, for several hours, had put Judge Edith Brown Clement of the federal appeals court in New Orleans, then Judge J. Michael Luttig of the federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., at or near the top of the list of candidates.

Judge Roberts, 50, once clerked for Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist when the chief was an associate justice and is viewed as one of the more accomplished lawyers to argue before the Supreme Court, having won more than two dozen cases before becoming a judge.

The judge has been on the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit since May 2003. That court has often been a springboard for the Supreme Court; indeed, three current members of the high court, Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, were once on the D.C. Circuit.

Mr. Bush had playfully deflected questions earlier in the day about whom he might choose, telling reporters as he has many times before that he would pick a jurist “who will not legislate from the bench.”

If confirmed, Judge Roberts might tilt the balance of the court rightward. Justice O’Connor, who has been on the tribunal for 24 years and was the first woman on the Supreme Court, was widely regarded as a swing justice between the liberal and conservative blocs.

Given this White House’s penchant for secrecy, it’s amazing that they let this leak out this afternoon before the announcement. I’ve been busy enough that the first I heard of it was the NPR announcer a couple minutes before the address.

From what I’ve read, Roberts appears to be a solid conservative and he’s young, good qualities in a nominee. Beyond that, I know little of Roberts beyond a bit I’ve seen in the news and have nothing of much substance to add to the discussion. That may change during the confirmation battle.

Previous OTB mentions of Roberts:

I’ll skip the links to the other posts speculating about nominees that have yet to come to pass. Naturally, I’ll dig them up if one of them winds up nominated upon the next retirement.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Lt bell says:

    oh yes!!!
    to get attention off of Valerie Plame and the Bush crime family and the diaster and conflagration in Iraq-
    25000 dead thanks to you conservatives

    sleep proud

  2. anjin-san says:

    Clearly Bush rushed the appointment to deflect attention from Rovegate. That being said, on the surface Roberts seems to be a decent choice.

  3. Mike Marden says:

    Course the ACLoonys and the Alliance for (in)justice are already up in arms but…screw ’em. This guys gonna breeze through confimation with ease.

  4. McGehee says:

    I love how the reactionary Lefties consider the nomination of the next Supreme Court justice a less important story than Nadagate.

    It’s a great day to be a Republican.

  5. sgtfluffy says:

    Wow, you would thing that Bush bombed and aspirin factory or something last night