Bush Taps Roberts to Succeed Rehnquist as Chief Justice

The 50-year-old federal appeals court judge has yet to be confirmed by the Senate.
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Updated from 8:15 a.m. EDT

President Bush on Monday morning nominated John Roberts to be chief justice of the Supreme Court. Roberts would replace William Rehnquist,

who died on Saturday.

Rehnquist died two months after Justice Sandra Day O'Connor announced her retirement, giving the president the rare oppportunity to appoint two justices to the nation's highest court.

In making the announcement from the Oval Office, Bush said he hoped to have Roberts in place as the 17th chief justice in time for the court's fall term, which begins Oct. 3.

The Senate has delayed Roberts' confirmation hearings until after Rehnquist's funeral. The hearings are expected to start Thursday but will begin no later than Monday.

Bush said Roberts "possesses the intellect, experience and temperament to be an oustanding member of the U.S. Supreme Court. He's a man of integrity and fairness."

"I am honored and humbled by the confidence that the president has shown in me," said Roberts, who accompanied Bush in the White House. "I would succeed a man whom I deeply respect and admire." Roberts, 50, a federal appeals court judge, once clerked for Rehnquist.

Bush said Roberts "has inspired respect and the loyalty of others. In his extraordinary career, Judge Roberts has argued 39 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. Those who worked with him and faced him speak of admiration for his striking ability as a lawyer, and his natural gifts as a leader.

"It's in the interest of the court and the country to have a chief justice on the bench for the fall term of the court," Bush said. "I'm confident the Senate can complete hearings and confirm him as chief justice within in a month."

Bush said he would pick another nominee for associate justice to replace O'Connor "in a timely manner."