Nominee would make fourth Catholic justice on US court

Judge John Roberts would become the fourth Catholic member of the current US Supreme Court if he is confirmed by the Senate for the opening created by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's retirement.

Catholic News Service reports that Roberts, 50, was nominated on Tuesday by President George W. Bush, who called him "a man of extraordinary accomplishment and ability" who has "a good heart."

Roberts has been a judge of the federal appeals court for the District of Columbia for two years, after working in private practice in Washington and as a US deputy solicitor general from 1989 to 1993. He also served as a clerk for Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

His wife, Jane Sullivan Roberts, is also an attorney who graduated from Holy Cross College and Georgetown University's law school. She also has degrees from Brown University in Rhode Island, and Melbourne University. The couple, who have two children, are members of Little Flower Parish in Bethesda, Maryland.

One brief he co-wrote while deputy solicitor general, in the Rust vs. Sullivan case on abortion counselling, is being cited as a clue to his legal philosophy about Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide.

"We continue to believe that Roe was wrongly decided and should be overruled," said the government's brief in the case. The court ruled 5-4 in that 1991 decision that the federal government's ban on abortion counseling in its Title X family planning program does not violate free-speech rights or a woman's right to an abortion.

A year later, arguing for the government in another abortion-related case, Roberts said blockades of abortion clinics were no more targeted at specific classes of people than were anti-draft protests.

Jane Roberts has been active in Feminists for Life, and is a member of the board of governors of the John Carroll Society, a Catholic lay organisation that sponsors the annual Washington archdiocesan Red Mass before the opening of the Supreme Court term.

If confirmed, Roberts would be the 11th Catholic ever to serve on the court and the fourth among current members, joining Justices Clarence Thomas, Anthony Kennedy and Antonin Scalia.Senate confirmation hearings are unlikely to begin before early September. The Supreme Court term begins on 3 October.

Nominee would be fourth Catholic justice on current court (Catholic News Service 20/7/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Supreme Court of the United States

Meet John Roberts (American Prospect / CBS News 20/7/05)

Religious leaders call Roberts nomination to Supreme Court 'an answer to prayer' (Catholic News Agency 20/7/05)
Surprising conversion of San Francisco publisher become news (Catholic News Agency 20/7/05)
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Ave Maria University establishes Terri Schiavo Scholarship (Catholic News Agency 11/7/05)

21 Jul 2005