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Bush heaps praise on court nominee Roberts

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(CNN) -- President Bush on Saturday urged senators to "rise above partisanship" in the upcoming confirmation process of the judge he chose to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court.

"It is important that Judge [John] Roberts be confirmed before the court reconvenes on October the 3rd," Bush told the nation in his weekly radio address.

He said he has conferred with several senators about the confirmation process, including the chairman and ranking member of the Senate's Judiciary Committee, Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pennsylvania, and Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont; as well as the Senate majority and minority leaders, Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tennessee and Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada.

"These senators share my goals of an orderly and dignified confirmation process," Bush said.

Several Democratic senators have promised fair, though detailed, hearings.

"Now the Senate has to rise to the challenge and do its work," Leahy said Tuesday, after the president announced his pick. "No one is entitled to a free pass to a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court."

Fellow Democrat Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, also on the Judiciary Committee, said, "It is vital that Judge Roberts answer a wide range of questions openly, honestly and fully in the coming months.

"The burden is on a nominee to the Supreme Court to prove that he is worthy, not on the Senate to prove that he is unworthy."

The president announced his selection in a dramatic television broadcast Tuesday night from the White House, ending more than two weeks of speculation about who would take O'Connor's place on the Supreme Court.

Roberts, 50, serves on the U.S. Circuit of Appeals for the District of Columbia, widely considered the most influential federal court outside of the Supreme Court. He is a veteran appellate attorney, having argued nearly 40 cases before the Supreme Court in both private practice and as deputy solicitor general during the administration of Bush's father, President George H. W. Bush.

"Judge Roberts has a stellar record of achievement," Bush said. "He has the qualities Americans expect in a judge -- experience, wisdom, fairness and civility."

The president said Roberts would "strictly apply the Constitution and laws, not legislate from the bench."

Bush described the judge in glowing terms, saying, "America is fortunate to have a man of such wisdom and intellectual strength willing to serve our country."

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