Senators Go for Bush's Man
Roberts nomination sails along
Still, not everyone is comfortable with the specter of a Roberts-led court. "I have too many doubts about the direction a Roberts court will take us. Persistent, nagging doubts," said Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md. Mikulski's wariness is shared most vocally by reproductive rights advocates, who are concerned that a Roberts court would be inclined to further restrict reproductive choice by chipping away at the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which effectively legalized abortion. The court is set to consider two repro rights-related cases during the upcoming term, which begins on Oct. 3. And if the Bush administration has its way, the court will add a third by docketing its appeal of a Nebraska case, in which the government is seeking to reinstate a federal law banning all late-term, or so-called partial-birth, abortions. Federal district and appellate judges in Nebraska ruled that the law is unconstitutional because it lacks an exception to protect the health of the mother. If the court accepts the case, justices likely will not hear it until next spring. By that time, a second Bush-nominated justice replacing retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, the current court's crucial swing vote will be on the bench.
Bush is expected to nominate O'Connor's replacement soon after Roberts' fate is decided (perhaps as soon as next week), and Democratic senators have urged the president to choose wisely, and moderately, in order to maintain a balanced bench. "We're asking him in this case especially: Be a uniter. Don't be a divider, for the sake of the country," Leahy told the Post.