Bush Nominates Roberts to Replace Chief Justice Rehnquist

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President Bush nominated Judge John G. Roberts Jr. today to replace Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, whose death late Saturday opened a second vacancy on the Supreme Court and a new front in the ideological battle over the judiciary.

Senate leaders agreed this morning to delay by at least two days the start of Mr. Roberts's confirmation hearing, which had been set to begin on Tuesday, when he was being considered to succeed Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Now that Mr. Bush has nominated him for the chief justice's job, several Senate and Congressional leaders had asked that the hearings be delayed until after Chief Justice Rehnquist's funeral, which is set for Wednesday.

The hearings will begin as early as Thursday and no later than next Monday, with a final decision on timing expected following further discussions.

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