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SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 2005
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EDITORIAL

Roberts provides no reason to deny him confirmation

Chief justice nominee John Roberts, in four days of questioning and testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, provided no reason for the panel not to recommend his confirmation to the post.

Judge Roberts, 50, who has served the past two years on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and was once a clerk for the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist, the man he would replace, is obviously smart and as close to moderate in his political philosophy as we will likely see in a Bush nominee.

Although precise and thorough in his answers about law and precedent, Judge Roberts was less forthcoming about his personal views on social issues that are likely to come before the court.

As the nominee told the panel, "I am not an ideologue, and you and I agree that that's not the sort of person we want on the Supreme Court."

We are heartened by Judge Roberts' assertion that he would rule on future cases guided by facts and precedent rather than by personal beliefs. During questioning, he urged more "consistency" in Supreme Court rulings about the Pledge of Allegiance, the Ten Commandments and other church-state issues.

Judge Roberts' colleagues respect him. The American Bar Association rated him a "well qualified" candidate after a thorough screening process.

And although civil rights leaders and "People for the American Way" spoke out against him, they draw their conclusions mostly from memos in the early 1980s when Mr. Roberts was a staff attorney in the Reagan administration. Planned Parenthood also opposes his appointment, but that is to be expected for any candidate President Bush would nominate.

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