Democrats are lining up their votes against John Roberts to be the next Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, the entire Congressional Black Caucus, and a handful of women's groups becoming the latest to make their opposition official on Sept. 20, each citing Roberts' risk to the rights of women and minorities. "No one suggests that John Roberts was motivated by bigotry or animosity toward minorities or women," when he argued for rolling back civil rights protections during the Reagan Administration, Reid thundered from the Senate floor. And "I do not condemn Judge Roberts for using the word 'amigos' 20 years ago in a nonpublic memo. But I was stunned when at his confirmation hearing he could not bring himself to express regret for using the term, or recognize that it might cause offense.... I intend to cast my vote against this nominee."
Attribute the saber-rattling to Washington politics even as Democrats play to their base, Roberts is all but guaranteed confirmation when the full Senate votes next week. But the battle over the next nominee likely won't be such a walk in the park. Sources close to the White House say the President wants to nominate a woman to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, but he also hasn't given up his desire to make history by appointing the high court's first Hispanic, reports Business Week.
According to CBC, Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., announced he will vote for confirmation, and Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., edged toward an endorsement, as well. Roberts also commands overwhelming if not unanimous support among the Senate's 55 Republicans.
"After reviewing Judge John Roberts' credentials and meeting with him privately, I have found that he meets my criteria for judges. And that is: only the brightest, most objective minds shall serve on the bench," said Baucus," who added the decision was not an easy one.
"I've not seen anything that would cause me to vote against" Roberts, said Nelson, who is seeking re-election next year in Republican Nebraska and often crosses party lines to support Mr. Bush's legislative proposals.
Reid had successfully urged fellow Democrats to refrain from taking positions on the appointment until after the completion of last week's confirmation hearings and the regular Tuesday closed-door meeting of the rank-and-file.
"This is a very close question for me. But I must resolve my doubts in favor of the American people whose rights would be in jeopardy if John Roberts turned out to be the wrong person for the job," he said.