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Is Judge Roberts qualified? Then put him on high court

President Bush last week nominated U.S. Court of Appeals JudgeJohn G. Roberts to take the place of retiring Justice Sandra DayO’Connor on the United States Supreme Court.

Reaction in the days since the nomination has been fairlypredictable with most Republicans jumping on the Roberts bandwagonand many Democrats trying to poke holes in his qualifications forsitting on the nation’s high court.

The best advice we can give is for activists and politicians oneither side to take a breath, stand down and wait for the U.S.Senate to do its job.

Under our system of government, the president nominatescandidates for the federal judiciary, and the Senate performs an”advise and consent” role – ultimately giving the deliberative bodythe final say on any candidate. Bush has done his job, and now itis up to senators to do theirs – and time for the American publicto let that process run its course.

As the Senate begins to delve into Roberts’ background and hisjudicial philosophy, its members would be wise to be mindful oftheir role.

Senators must not let themselves become caught up in thetemptation to accept or reject Roberts based on his social andpolitical leanings – as some already have begun to do.

Minutes after Bush nominated Roberts on Tuesday, Sens. PatrickLeahy, D-Vt., and Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., held a news conferenceto make it known that Roberts would not get a free ride. And thatis as it should be, as questioning the nominee to gauge theirqualifications, character and demeanor is precisely theselawmakers’ role.

However, while Leahy, ranking Democrat on the Senate JudiciaryCommittee, was more measured in his assessment of Roberts, Schumerproudly recounted that he was one of just a handful of senators tooppose the judge for his current position and intimated he might dothe same this time.

It seems Roberts’ reputation as a solid conservative may haveSchumer others of his ilk running scared. However, the judge’sconservative leanings should not be grounds for any senator tooppose his confirmation if he is otherwise found qualified.

No doubt, Senate Republicans were far from enthusiastic whenPresident Clinton nominated current Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg -former general counsel for the left-leaning American CivilLiberties Union – in 1993 and Stephen Breyer – former chief counselto Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass. – in 1994. However, they wereconfirmed by votes of 96-3 and 87-9, respectively.

What the Republicans realized then, more than a decade ago, issomething it seems many Democrats have forgotten today: electionshave results.

In his 2004 re-election campaign, President Bush made no bonesabout the kind of Supreme Court nominee he would choose, and theAmerican public voted for him fully aware of that fact.

Barring an unforeseen bombshell uncovered in Roberts’ hearingsbefore the Senate, the president should see his nominee confirmed.A difference of opinion just isn’t enough.