President Bush nominated U.S. Circuit Court Judge John G. Roberts Jr. to replace retiring Supreme Court Judge Sandra Day O'Connor Tuesday during a prime-time TV address.
It was the first Supreme Court nomination since 1994, when President Clinton nominated Stephen Breyer. Roberts stood by the president's side during the announcement.
"My decision to nominate Judge Roberts to the Supreme Court came after a thorough and deliberate process," Bush said. "My staff and I consulted with more than 70 members of the U.S. Senate and I gained good advice from both Republicans and Democrats. ... I met personally with a number of potential nominees."
Roberts said it would be "an honor and very humbling to serve under the Supreme Court."
Roberts, 50, has served on the Washington, D.C., U.S. Court of Appeals since June 2003, when he was selected by Bush, according to CNN. He has worked in the White House counsel's office and as a principal deputy solicitor general for the U.S. Department of Justice from 1989 to 1993. He also clerked for Justice William Rehnquist before he was promoted to chief justice. Roberts is also a Harvard Law School graduate and has argued 39 cases before the high court.
White House press secretary Scott McClellan broke the news earlier Tuesday morning (July 19) that the Bush administration would announce its nominee to succeed Sandra Day O'Connor, who served as the swing vote on several divisive issues, including abortion and religion.
O'Connor announced earlier this month that she would be stepping down from the bench after 24 years (see "Sandra Day O'Connor, First Woman Supreme Court Justice, Announces Retirement").
Bush said he wanted his replacement in the Supreme Court by October, but he was mum on his nominee until Tuesday night. "I do have an obligation to think about people from different backgrounds that have shared the same philosophy, people who will not legislate from the bench," he said at a news conference Tuesday.
Liberal groups say Roberts could threaten rights including abortion, free speech and religious liberty, according to The Associated Press. They cited a 1990 brief co-written by Roberts that suggested the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade, the decision that legalized abortion. However, when he was nominated for the Circuit Court in 2003, he told senators "Roe v. Wade is the settled law of the land. ... There is nothing in my personal views that would prevent me from fully and faithfully applying that precedent."
The Roberts nomination now moves to the Republican-controlled Senate for confirmation.