Christian Activists Back Senate Panel Endorsement of Roberts

Christian activist groups were pleased with the senate judiciary panel’s 13-to-5 vote on Thursday, recommending chief justice nominee Judge John G. Roberts for a vote before the full senate next week, while also criticizing dissenting senators.

The vote by the 18 member committee included unanimous support from 10 Republicans, along with three democrats voting for Roberts. Several prominent Christian groups criticized the decisions of some democratic senators to oppose Roberts.

“The vote by the Judiciary Committee reflects the fact that John Roberts is an exceptional nominee with a conservative judicial philosophy – a philosophy that represents mainstream America,” Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), said in a statement released yesterday after the panel’s vote. “It’s encouraging that several Democrats recognized his talents and capabilities by voting for his confirmation. At the same time, though, it’s unfortunate that others chose to politicize a confirmation process by trying to turn it into some sort of election.”

The ACLJ and other groups expressed a desire to see the full Senate confirm Roberts when it votes next week, while looking ahead toward the nomination of a conservative replacement for retiring judge Sandra Day O’Connor, who represented a crucial swing vote on various important Supreme Court decisions. Both Democrats and Republicans have indicated that the next nomination may not go as quickly.

As for next week’s confirmation vote, Jan LaRue, chief counsel for Concerned Women for America’s said that Roberts “deserves overwhelming” bi-partisan support for the full senate vote.

However, Roberts experienced obstacles along the way, according to Connie Mackey, vice president of Government Affairs for the Family Research Council.

"Unfortunately, John Roberts endured buff and bluster from senators who were determined to use a litmus test strategy to block his nomination,” Mackie said in a statement released Thursday. ”However, John Roberts overcame this adversity by demonstrating he is exceptionally impartial and fair-minded.”

Tony Perkins, President of the FRC stated that in their opposition to Roberts, the five dissenting senators were “out of the mainstream,” pointing to senators Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), Joseph Biden (D-Del.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Charles Schumer (D-NY), and Richard Durbin (D-Ill.).

Looking ahead to O’Connor’s successor, FRC called on the president to select a judge similar to the Justices many call the two most conservative on the current High Court; Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas.

"As President Bush considers a nominee to replace Justice O'Connor, Family Research Council is prepared to launch an effort to activate grassroots support for a fair process and a prompt up-or-down vote,” said Mackie. “This time, President Bush gave us a nominee who is Rehnquist-like. Next time, we expect the President to nominate someone in the mold of a Justice Scalia or Thomas."