WASHINGTON (AP) — Supreme Court nominee John Roberts picked up fresh compliments from Senate Republicans last Friday — and advice from a Democrat who voted against him previously to be more forthright in answering lawmakers’ questions.
Anti-abortion groups reaffirmed their support for the 50-year-old appellate judge despite the lack of any statement of his personal views on the subject.
‘‘We don’t know what’s going to happen in the future, but no constructionist judge is going to believe that it’s OK to murder babies,’’ said Tony Newman, president of Operation Rescue.
Roberts paid courtesy calls on members of the Senate Judiciary Committee for a third day as President Bush renewed his request that the nominee be confirmed before the Supreme Court’s new term begins Oct. 3.
The Senate should ‘‘give this good man a fair hearing and a vote as quickly as possible,’’ the president said in Atlanta.
No dates have been set for Judiciary Committee hearings on Bush’s pick to fill the first vacancy on the high court in 11 years.
The hearings are expected to be held in late August or early September.
Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat, said he voted against Roberts in committee for his appeals court seat two years ago partly because he did not feel the nominee fully answered senators’ questions.
‘‘I urged Judge Roberts, as far as he can legally within the cannons of ethics, to be forthcoming and honest with his answers,’’ Durbin said after their meeting last Friday. ‘‘If he is open and honest, I think it will go a long way.’’
There was upbeat Republican talk after Roberts’s meetings with Majority Whip Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and GOP Sens. Jeff Sessions of Alabama and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.
Sessions, whose own nomination to the federal bench was scuttled by Democrats before his election to the Senate, said Roberts ‘‘has the very natural qualities to make a superior judge.’’
Coburn said he would have preferred a nominee he knew would vote to reverse the Roe v. Wade abortion decision, but he also said it was critical to get someone ‘‘who’s on the side of the Constitution and its strict interpretation.’’
‘‘My litmus test is, do they believe in the limited role of the court in terms of following and interpreting the Constitution and not making policy,’’ Coburn said. ‘‘and I’m convinced right now that he is interested in limiting their decisions to what constitutionally they’re supposed to do.’’
Anti-abortion conservatives were bitterly disappointed with the first President Bush’s choice of David Souter.
John Paul Stevens, Anthony Kennedy and the retiring Sandra Day O’Connor also were Republican Supreme Court appointees who voted to uphold Roe v. Wade.
Roberts told the Judiciary Committee during his 2003 confirmation hearing: ‘‘Roe v. Wade is the settled law of the land. … There is nothing in my personal views that would prevent me from fully and faithfully applying that precedent.
However, he also helped write a legal brief for a Supreme Court case while serving as deputy solicitor general in the administration of the first President Bush.
‘‘Roe was wrongly decided and should be overruled,’’ it said in part.
‘‘The pro-life community is familiar with some of his work and the work of his wife,’’ Newman said.
Roberts’s wife, Jane Sullivan Roberts, is legal counsel for Feminists for Life of America and served as executive vice president on its board of directors from 1995-99, according to the group’s website.
It comes down to trust, said Austin Ruse, president of the Culture of Life Foundation.
‘‘We trust the president, we trust the people who are speaking for him … we also believe that at the heart, this is about the Constitution, and if someone has the right judicial attitude about the Constitution, we will trust them with the issues that we care about,’’ Ruse said.