Thursday, September 29, 2005

Roberts sworn in as chief justice


John Roberts, a conservative former corporate lawyer and a counsel in the Reagan and first Bush White Houses, was sworn in Thursday as the 17th chief justice of the United States.

The swearing-in at the White House by Justice John Paul Stevens followed an overwhelming confirmation vote in the Senate, of 78 in favor to 22 against. Roberts succeeds the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist at the helm of the Supreme Court. At 50, he could lead the court for decades.

"The Senate has confirmed a man with an astute mind and a kind heart," President Bush said, praising what he called Roberts' reverence for the Constitution and personal decency.

Roberts spoke briefly and said that he took the Senate's vote as a confirmation of a "bedrock principle" for him -- that "judging is different from politics."

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said Roberts will be a "faithful steward" of the Constitution before casting a yes vote for the new chief justice.