by Steven Ertelt
September 22, 2005
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The Senate Judiciary Committee approved John Roberts’ bid to head the Supreme Court on a 13-5 vote, with all Republicans and three Democrats supporting his nomination. The full Senate will take up President Bush’s first Supreme Court pick next week and Roberts is expected to be approved easily.
"I think he has a real sense for building consensus," Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Arleen Specter, an abortion advocate, said before the vote.
Pat Leahy, the top Democrat on the judicial panel, joined Sen. Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold, both Wisconsin Democrats, in voting for Roberts. Leahy said Roberts is a "man of integrity."
Five Democrats, including Sens. Dianne Feinstein of California, Joseph Biden of Delaware, Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, Charles Schumer of New York and Dick Durbin of Illinois, opposed Roberts.
Pro-life groups applauded the vote and looked forward to the Senate’s vote, which will take place next Thursday.
"Judge Roberts deserves overwhelming bi-partisan confirmation by the Senate," said Jan LaRue, CWA’s chief counsel. "Only those willing to jump off a political cliff by joining hands with the die-hard abortion … groups can be expected to oppose this supremely qualified nominee."
During his confirmation hearings, Roberts would not say how he would rule on the landmark Roe v. Wade case that ushered in an era of 44 million abortions. However, he laid out the ways in which a precedent-setting case like that one could be overturned and pro-life groups pointed to that as a hopeful sign he would overturn it.
President Bush has a second opportunity to appoint a nominee to fill the vacant seat of outgoing pro-abortion Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. He met with Senate leaders Wednesday to discuss possible names and he is said to be considering one of several pro-life women and Hispanics serving on federal appeals courts.
"The President should name the best-qualified and proven constitutionalist to replace O’Connor as soon as Judge Roberts is confirmed," LaRue said.
Other Democrats not on the committee have said they will back Roberts, including Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, Max Baucus of Montana and Tim Johnson of South Dakota. Two others, Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Kent Conrad of North Dakota, are likely to vote for him as well.
That would give Roberts 63 votes on the Senate floor and possibly more if additional Democrats join Republicans in supporting his nomination. The votes would also exceed the threshold needed should a senator decided to launch a filibuster against him.
Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid has said he would vote against Roberts next week when the full Senate considers the nomination but he indicated he will not filibuster.