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Reaction to Roberts Nomination Generally Supportive

U.S. President George Bush urged lawmakers to give Supreme Court nominee John Roberts a fair and timely hearing as both sides prepare for a confirmation battle.

It was breakfast at the White house for Supreme Court nominee John Roberts. The 50-year-old U.S. Court of Appeals judge is President Bush's choice to become the first Supreme Court member appointed in more than a decade.

The President described Mr. Roberts as a judge who rules with wisdom, fairness and civility. "I urge the Senate to rise to the occasion to provide a fair and civil process and have Judge Roberts in place before the next Court session begins on October 3rd."

Reaction from Republican Party senators to Mr. Roberts' nomination has been supportive but the response from Democrats was measured. Some liberal groups are expressing concern about Mr. Roberts' views on abortion, a polarizing issue among lawmakers. In particular, his writings on Roe versus Wade, the Supreme Court decision that established a woman's right to an abortion. Roberts argued the Supreme Court decision was flawed and should be over-ruled.

Democratic party Senator Charles Schumer says it's a view that should not be taken lightly. "His views will affect a generation of Americans and it is his obligation during the nomination process to let the American people know those views."

But legal experts warn against reading too much into Mr. Roberts' written stance on abortion. George Washington Law Professor Mary Cheh says the brief was written while Roberts was arguing a case for the US government. Ms. Cheh says senators are likely to grill Roberts on everything from his views on abortion, religious freedom and first amendment rights, but she predicts the Harvard law school graduate will pass the confirmation hearing process, relatively unscathed.

"I think Mr. Roberts, having argued 30-some cases before the Supreme Court, having been involved in major litigation, is very adroit at handling questions and answering what he wants to answer,” said Ms. Cheh. “So, he'll have a full and fair hearing, but whether it's a satisfactory hearing from the perspective of the Democrats, that remains to be seen."

Republican Senator Arlen Specter, who chairs the committee that will appoint the new Supreme Court Justice, asked liberal groups and lawmakers to give the hearing process a chance. "I think that at a minimum people ought to give him an opportunity to be heard and to express himself and to review his record."

Judge John G. Roberts, Jr.
Mr. Roberts is no stranger to the high court, having clerked for Chief Justice William Rehnquist after law school and as a lawyer, arguing dozens of cases before the Supreme Court. Senate confirmation hearings are expected to begin in late August or early September.