What will Senate Democrats do?
Senate Democrats, after months of preparing for a full-scale fight with President Bush over a Supreme Court nominee, yesterday found themselves instead weighing whether or how to battle his choice of John Roberts Jr. The dilemma Democrats face is that Roberts, a well-known Washington lawyer before becoming a federal appellate court judge in 2003, appears to be more conservative than they would like but less ideological than they feared.
Democratic leader Sen. Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, set the tone the day after Bush selected Roberts, taking pains to describe the nominee as an accomplished lawyer and a "very nice man," but withholding judgment on whether he deserves to serve as one of the country's nine most powerful judges.
Several Democrats complained that Roberts had served as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit for only two years and has a sparse judicial record. As a result, they were considering requesting confidential copies of material he wrote when he served as deputy solicitor general in the Justice Department under President George H.W. Bush. If the request is made, it would be the first time in the history of our country setting a new precedent, which has not been applied to any other Supreme Court nominee.
Bush urged the Senate to proceed with the confirmation process "in a dignified, civil way." He also said, "I'm confident the senators will come to realize what I've come to realize: We're lucky to have a man of such wisdom and intellectual strength willing to serve our country."