Roberts Confirmed as Chief Justice

Stakes Huge with Replacement for Swing Vote O’Connor

People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas released the following statement regarding the confirmation of John Roberts as Chief Justice of the United States:

We are deeply disappointed that John Roberts has been confirmed to a lifetime position as Chief Justice of the United States. Nominees for powerful lifetime positions on the Supreme Court have an obligation to demonstrate that they have a basic commitment to Americans’ constitutional rights and legal protections. We believe that Judge Roberts did not meet this burden. Now that he has been confirmed, we wish John Roberts well, and hope that he will use his intellect and his abilities to serve all Americans with a fair and even hand. Only time will tell his place in history.

We applaud those who opposed Judge Roberts based on his record and his testimony. We are disappointed with those Democrats and moderate Republicans who chose to support Judge Roberts, despite his long record of working to undermine rights and legal protections, his evasive answers to the Senate, and the Bush administration’s continued refusal to release key documents that would have illuminated his record and approach to the Constitution. But we are pleased that many of those same senators have said they would oppose any effort by President Bush to replace Justice Sandra Day O’Connor with an ideologue who would push the Court to the right.

The stakes are particularly high with the replacement for O’Connor, a mainstream conservative who often provided the decisive vote to uphold many rights and legal protections. Whoever is confirmed to take Justice O’Connor’s seat will be crucial to freedom from discrimination in the workplace, in education, in housing, and in the voting booth; privacy and reproductive rights; environmental protection; religious liberty; and immigrant rights.

We commend Senators Reid and Leahy for their joint appeal to President Bush to reject ideological activists to replace Justice O’Connor, and choose a mainstream nominee who can draw broad, bipartisan support.

With Roberts leading the Court for as many as 40 years, the O’Connor seat is the tipping point. Her successor will determine our rights and freedoms for years to come. Within the next few days, the fight for our future could begin all over again. The choice rests with the President.

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