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BREAKING NEWS ~ Bush taps Roberts for Chief Justice

[JURIST] President Bush has said he is nominating US Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr. [JURIST news archive] as the next Chief Justice of the United States, succeeding the late Chief Justice Rehnquist. He announced the nomination this morning before flying back to the Gulf Coast region hit by Hurricane Katrina. The President met with Roberts Sunday evening at the White House and offered him the position early Monday. Naming Roberts as Chief Justice allows the President to capitalize on the current nomination process which was already scheduled to shift into high gear with Senate confirmation hearings beginning tomorrow. If Roberts is confirmed, the move would ensure a full bench in time for the opening of the Supreme Court term in October. Roberts served as a law clerk to Rehnquist in 1980-81 when Rehnquist was still an Associate Justice on the court. AP has more.

8:45 AM ET - The President said:

The passing of Chief Justice William Rehnquist leaves the center chair empty just four weeks left before the Supreme Court reconvenes. It is in the interest of the Court and the country to have a chief justice on the bench on the first full day of the fall term. The Senate is well along in the process of considering Judge Roberts' qualifications. They know his record and his fidelity to the law. I'm confident that the Senate can complete hearings and confirm him as chief justice within a month. As a result of my decision to nominate Judge Roberts to be chief justice, I also have the responsibility to submit a new nominee to follow Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. I will do so in a timely manner.

Twenty-five years ago, John Roberts came to Washington as a clerk to Justice William Rehnquist. In his boss, the young law clerk found a role model, a professional mentor, and a friend for life. I'm certain that Chief Justice Rehnquist was hoping to welcome John Roberts as a colleague, and we're all sorry that day didn't come. Yet it's fitting that a great chief justice be followed in office by a person who shared his deep reverence for the Constitution, his profound respect for the Supreme Court, and his complete devotion to the cause of justice.
Read the full text of the President's remarks [transcript] during his brief appearance with Judge Roberts in the Oval Office.

What do you think of the President's announcement? Are you surprised, pleased, or concerned at the prospect of Roberts as Chief Justice? E-mail us at JURIST@law.pitt.edu.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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