John G. Roberts sworn in as 17th U.S. chief justice

Derek Lenehan

Locals react to seat confirmation

Ending weeks of Congressional debate, John Roberts has been confirmed as the 17th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court by a vote of 78-22.

At the age of 50, Roberts can realistically serve the court for more than 20 years, and local reactions have been mixed.

“I think that, given the depth of his experience, age is not an issue for John Roberts,” Portage County Judge Barbara Oswick said, regarding criticism that the nominee may be too young for the job.

Mara Smith, English instructor and lawyer, disagreed.

“It’s concerning because he will influence what cases come before the Supreme Court,” she said. “The court was much more balanced 10 years ago. It’s become more conservative, and I don’t see it becoming more liberal.

Reactions from student leaders were less concerned with Roberts himself, but more with the process of his nomination and the filling of the next vacancy on the court.

“John Roberts is a solid nominee by President Bush,” said Bill Ross, executive director of the Undergraduate Student Senate. “He has the experience you look for in a Supreme Court Chief Justice. I hope the President chooses the next nominee wisely. I anticipate a larger student reaction next time around. I anticipate people to be much more vocal.”

Justin Jeffrey, candidate for Kent City Council and president of the Kent Interhall Council, was apprehensive about the speed of Roberts’ nomination and confirmation.

“I commend the House and Senate for passing Roberts so quickly, but it is an important position, and maybe more care could have gone into the process,” he said.

The Roberts nomination and confirmation process was smooth because Roberts was replacing the late William Rehnquist. The next nominee will have to replace swing vote Sandra Day O’Connor.

If the nominee leans to the left or right at all, it will tip the court’s former balance between four liberal justices, four conservative, and one moderate. The next nominee is to be announced within days.

Contact news correspondent Derek Lenehan at [email protected].