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Chief Justice Roberts goes to work

Bush to name O'Connor replacement soon

From Bill Mears
CNN Washington Bureau

Chief Justice Roberts went to work the day after he was confirmed by the Senate and sworn into office.


Stephen Breyer
Confirmed 87-9 on 7/29/94

Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Confirmed 96-3 on 8/3/93

Clarence Thomas
Confirmed 52-48 on 10/15/91

David H. Souter
Confirmed 90-9 on 10/2/90

Anthony M. Kennedy
Confirmed 97-0 on 2/3/88

Douglas Ginsburg
Withdrew before confirmation hearings

Robert H. Bork
Rejected 42-58 on 10/23/87

Antonin Scalia
Confirmed 98-0 on 9/17/86

William H. Rehnquist (for Chief Justice)
Confirmed 65-33 on 9/17/86

Sandra Day O'Connor
Confirmed 99-0 on 9/21/81

John Paul Stevens
Confirmed 98-0 on 12/17/75

William H. Rehnquist (for Associate Justice)
Confirmed 68-26 on 12/10/71



Supreme Court
George W. Bush
John Roberts

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- John Roberts wasted little time getting down to business, spending his first full day Friday as chief justice of the United States making the rounds at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Roberts, 50, was sworn in Thursday as the 17th chief justice of the United States. The ceremony took place less than four hours after Roberts was confirmed to the post in a 78-22 vote in the Senate, ending a 10-week roller coaster ride for the former federal appeals judge.(Full story)

The high court's new term begins Monday.

Roberts spent Friday meeting the court's employees and moving into his new offices. The workspace was used by his predecessor William Rehnquist, who died September 3 after a battle with thyroid cancer. The office is on the opposite side of the street from the U.S. Capitol.

Except for a brief period helping to carry the casket of Rehnquist into the Supreme Court during public mourning, Roberts had spent no time in the building since he was nominated in July to fill the seat of the retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Roberts was then re-nominated to fill the chief justice spot.

Rehnquist's personal staff was asked to continue working with the new chief justice, and Rehnquist's three legal clerks also will remain on Roberts' staff.

Roberts also brings two clerks from his previous job as a federal appeals court judge in Washington, D.C. The clerks help perform much of the legal work for the justices, drafting opinions and going over the thousands of appeals filed with the court for consideration.

Investiture ceremony

Oral arguments begin Monday morning. Before that, Roberts will have one more swearing-in ceremony, called an investiture. It will be conducted in the Supreme Court's majestic courtroom, and President Bush is expected to be among those attending the invitation-only event.

Roberts then will make a traditional walk down the court's exteriors steps for the cameras, accompanied by Justice John Paul Stevens, the senior member of the bench. Stevens administered the oath of office to Roberts Thursday at the White House.

Roberts also is expected to attend the annual "Red Mass" Sunday, a Washington church service honoring the legal and judicial profession. President Bush will attend along with prominent judges, lawmakers, cabinet officers, and lawyers.

With Roberts widely expected confirmation, attention on Capitol Hill shifts to the president's choice to replace retiring O'Connor. (View a gallery of possible Supreme Court nominees)

Because O'Connor has been a moderate swing vote on the closely divided court, the battle over her replacement could prove more contentious than the comparatively mild tussle over Roberts' confirmation.

Bush's second nominee

Bush administration officials close to the selection process have told CNN that Bush could announce his nominee to replace O'Connor any time after Friday.

The focus of the search process has been on women and minority candidates, Bush sources confirm, although White House advisers are holding their cards close to the vest.

Roberts, a native of Buffalo, New York, grew up in Indiana before going east to Harvard for undergraduate studies and law school. A Roman Catholic, he is married with two small children.

Roberts was principal deputy solicitor general during the administration of Bush's father, former President George H.W. Bush, presenting the administration's arguments before the high court. His boss at the time was Kenneth Starr, who later became the Whitewater special prosecutor involved in former President Bill Clinton's impeachment case.

Roberts also served in the Reagan administration, first as special assistant to Attorney General William French Smith and then as associate White House counsel. He was a law clerk for Rehnquist.

Roberts was confirmed in 2003 to the D.C. Circuit, considered the most influential federal court outside of the Supreme Court. However, approval of his nomination was delayed two years by Senate Democrats when they gained control of the chamber after Sen. Jim Jeffords of Vermont quit the Republican Party and became an Independent.

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