Salazar to vote for confirmation of Roberts


DENVER ” After two cordial meetings with John Roberts to discuss civil rights, Roe vs. Wade and Western water issues, Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar said Sunday he would vote to confirm the judge as chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

“I think given what we could have gotten from George Bush, he at least comes in that river of mainstream,” Salazar, a freshman Democrat, said at his Denver headquarters.

Salazar said he was confident Roberts would not reverse the progress of civil and women’s rights, recognized the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution and understood the importance of freedom of religion and religious pluralism.

“He was referencing his children, 4 and 5 years old,” Salazar said. “He said his world view has changed because of his children.”

The Senator said Roberts also told him that he recognized Roe vs. Wade and other abortion decisions as the law and precedent of the Supreme Court.

“He respects the precedent of the Supreme Court, which to me says that he will not have an agenda on the bench to come in and undo those decisions,” Salazar said. “I don’t think he will vote to overturn Roe vs. Wade.”

And Salazar, the former Colorado attorney general, believed the judge would create a federal judicial system that reflects the country’s diversity.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 13-5 Thursday to endorse Roberts, the first of two Supreme Court appointments Bush will soon make. Many are expecting the next confirmation fight ” over who will replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor ” to be much tougher.

The Senate is expected to vote by next Thursday on whether to confirm Roberts. Colorado’s other senator, Republican Wayne Allard, also has said he would vote for Roberts’ confirmation.

This isn’t the first time Salazar, who has served less than a year, has separated himself from members of own party. In May, he was among 14 Democrats and Republicans whose compromise ended the dispute over some of President Bush’s most controversial judicial nominees while retaining the right to filibuster.

Salazar, who was considered a pivotal vote in Roberts’ confirmation, said he expected some people from both political parties to be unhappy with Roberts.

“With respect to my own vote, I know that there will be people who have asked me to vote against him who will not be happy with my vote,” Salazar said. “I feel comfortable with the decision.”

Salazar has criticized President Bush’s handling of Roberts’ nomination and challenged him to make public who he is considering to replace O’Connor.

“My concern is that he will appoint somebody who is a right-wing ideologue,” Salazar said Sunday. “If in fact he does that, I will be leading the fight against the confirmation, even if that means being at the point of the spear.”

Salazar also said Bush should make it a priority to create gender and ethnic diversity on the court. The White House has said only that Bush’s next nominee would be highly qualified and has given no timetable for when the next nomination will be made.

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