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By JESSE J. HOLLAND Associated Press Writer
The Associated Press

Roberts to Be Confirmed in Time to Lead Supreme Court in New Term Next Week

WASHINGTON Sep 29, 2005 — John Glover Roberts Jr., backed by a united Senate Republican majority and about half of a divided Democratic minority, is taking his place as the nation's 17th chief justice, to lead the Supreme Court into the 21st century and through turbulent social issues that will affect generations to come.

Roberts was to be confirmed Thursday by at least 77 senators in the GOP-controlled Senate, or more than three-fourths of the 100-member chamber, as President Bush's selection to replace the late William H. Rehnquist. The 50-year-old U.S. appeals court judge then was to be quickly sworn into his new position at the White House so he could take his seat on Monday in time for the new court session where justices will tackle issues like assisted suicide, campaign finance law and abortion.

The Bush administration wants the Supreme Court to reinstate a national ban on a type of late-term abortion, and the court already has scheduled arguments on whether New Hampshire's parental notification law is unconstitutional because it lacks an exception allowing a minor to have an abortion to protect her health in the event of a medical emergency.


Anti-abortion and abortion rights activists both have their hopes pinned on Roberts, a former government lawyer in the Reagan and first Bush administrations. While Roberts is solidly conservative and his wife, Jane, volunteers for Feminists for Life, both sides were anxious to see how he will vote on abortion cases before the high court.

Roberts told senators during his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings that past Supreme Court rulings carry weight, including the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in 1973. He also said he agreed with the 1965 Supreme Court ruling in Griswold v. Connecticut that established the right of privacy on the sale and use of contraceptives.

But he tempered that by saying Supreme Court justices can overturn rulings.

During four days of sometimes testy questioning by Democrats, Roberts refused to answer questions that would hint how he'd rule on cases, a position that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg called "unquestionably right" at a speech at Wake Forest University on Wednesday.
 
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