(CNSNews.com) - Even before President Bush made the formal announcement that D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge John G. Roberts would be his nominee to fill the seat to be vacated by U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, conservative groups and politicians were lining up to praise him, even though a few did so cautiously.
Joe Giganti, spokesman for the National Pro-Life Action Center, told Cybercast News Service that Roberts appears to be "someone who would understand the constitutional reasons for the dissent in Roe v. Wade, and we would support such a nominee.
"Our stance has been from the very beginning that any Supreme Court nominee must meet the 'Rehnquist standard,' that is, concur with his dissent in Roe v. Wade," Giganti said. "Roberts is uniquely positioned to be that person as he clerked for [Chief] Justice [William] Rehnquist."
Giganti said the group would withdraw its support, however, if Roberts were to pledge to the Senate Judiciary Committee that he accepted the decision legalizing abortion on demand as "settled law."
C. Boyden Gray -- chairman of the Committee for Justice and former White House counsel to President George H.W. Bush -- said Roberts' "outstanding education and career, high character, and faithfulness to the Constitution make him an excellent fit for the court at this moment.
"John Roberts has had one of the most distinguished legal careers in modern times," Gray said. "His nomination is a solid first step towards returning the federal judiciary to its proper role in our system."
The Third Branch Conference, a coalition of conservative groups lobbying for "strict constructionist" nominees to the federal courts, called Roberts a "solid replacement" for O'Connor, who has "unimpeachable credentials and temperament.
"In naming John Roberts, the President hit it out of the ball park," said Third Branch Conference spokesman Manuel Miranda. "John Roberts is a 'lawyer's lawyer' who will interpret the Constitution and the law without regard to personal or religious views, as a judge and not a politician."
Jeff Mazzella, president of the Center for Individual Freedom, called Roberts "an outstanding nominee.
"Judge Roberts is a well-qualified, mainstream choice who will stand up for the Constitution and reject the temptation to legislate from the bench," Mazzella said. "He has a clear record demonstrating that he understands that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land, not an evolving set of flexible guidelines."
Mazzella praised President Bush for keeping "his campaign promise to select a Supreme Court justice who will put the Constitution first."
The American Center for Law and Justice, led by chief counsel Jay Sekulow, called Roberts "an exceptional choice who will bring sound legal reasoning to the Supreme Court of the United States.
"He was one of the most gifted advocates before the high court and has served with distinction on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals," said Sekulow, who also regularly argues cases before the Supreme Court.
"In my dealings with Judge Roberts over the years, I have found him to be a 'lawyer's lawyer,' exhibiting uncommon insight and judgment," Sekulow continued. "Judge Roberts understands the Constitution and has a record of applying the law, not legislating from the bench."
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), appearing on CNN's "Paula Zahn Now," agreed.
"[Roberts] has a sense that we have been making a mistake by being political from the bench. He does not believe in that philosophy," Sessions said. "So, he will be perfectly consistent with the kind of judge that President Bush promised to appoint."
If he is confirmed by the Senate, Roberts would be the 109th associate justice to serve on the nation's highest court since the initial selection in 1789.
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