Speaking on confirmation for John Roberts as chief justice of the Supreme Court, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said Sunday he hoped President George W. Bush's next nominee for the top U.S. court will share Roberts' conservative credentials.
"I hope that we'll have somebody who is modest like Judge Roberts says he is, someone who will promote stability so there are no sharp turns," said Sen. Arlen Specter, a Republican.
With Roberts' rise from appeal courts to the high court all but assured, President Bush has begun early consultations on filling the vacancy created by retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.
Bush plans to meet Wednesday with Specter, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Republican, Minority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, and Sen. Patrick Leahy, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, reports CBC.
Republicans, meanwhile, are poised to go on the attack against senators opposed to Roberts's confirmation in upcoming election campaigns. The idea would be to portray those senators as beholden to well-funded leftist interest groups that vocally opposed the judge.
Already, they are making the case that Democrats who vote "no" on the nominee are acting on politics, not qualifications; they are pointing to 1993, when Republican senators overwhelmingly supported Ruth Bader Ginsburg for Supreme Court justice despite her liberal views on a variety of issues.
In the short term, Democratic senators also are considering how to send the right message to the White House about President Bush's nominee to fill the second vacancy on the Supreme Court.
"If Bush gets more than 60 votes he'll feel emboldened to nominate a movement conservative," said Doug Schoen, a pollster for President Clinton. The Senate has 55 Republicans and 45 Democrats.
Over the weekend, strategists said, many senators would be taking the pulse of constituents and local officials after the four days of confirmation hearings, which concluded Thursday, informs Boston Globe.