President Bush moved boldly to shift the Supreme Court to the right by selecting federal appellate judge John G. Roberts Jr. to succeed Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, says the Washington Post in an analysis. But in choosing a jurist with establishment credentials and bipartisan allies, Bush also picked a nominee he believes can win confirmation with some Democratic votes. Bush appeared to have the court’s future and the confirmation process in mind as he made his decision this week. By picking Roberts, Bush displayed his determination to put a more conservative stamp on the court.
At the same time, the president passed over a number of highly conservative judges whose nominations would have been seen as far more ideological and polarizing than that of Roberts. Given that this was the first but probably not the last Supreme Court vacancy he will be asked to fill, Bush signaled a less confrontational approach toward the Senate than he has adopted with his lower-court nominations — and challenged the Senate to avoid a divisive debate over his choice. Senate Democrats reacted cautiously, saying only that there are many questions they want Roberts to answer during his confirmation hearings.