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Senate must not rush to judge the judge

We hope that our nation's senators remember to "never judge a book by its cover."

President George W. Bush announced Tuesday that John Roberts Jr. was his nomination for U.S. Supreme Court justice. Hopefully, all our elected leaders heard that old saying growing up and will take it to heart as the Senate confirmation hearings begin in late August or early September and will likely culminate with a vote before the new term begins in October.

Republicans quickly started singing the man's praises, and while remaining cautious, many Democrats have at least not outright rejected the nomination or called for a filibuster.

We don't know enough about Roberts yet to decide either way, but we encourage our leaders from both political perspectives to enter the sessions with open minds and judge the man for what he has done.

''I urge the Senate to rise to the occasion, provide a fair and civil process and to have Judge Roberts in place before the next court sessions begins on October the third,'' President Bush said.

We certainly agree with the first part of this statement because the appointment to the nation's highest court is something of tremendous importance and great magnitude. With no term limits to the judgeship and the fact that Roberts would fill the spot vacated by the swing vote of retiring Sandra Day O'Connor, this appointment will be vital to the future face of the nation's laws.

Considered by many to be a well-respected conservative appeals judge, the 50-year-old Roberts has a Harvard education and quite a bit of experience, though not so much behind the bench.

In the past, Roberts has worked in Washington, D.C., at the White House and for the State Department. The attorney also had relationships with the first President George Bush and with President Ronald Reagan.

But foes will likely attack the point that he has only served as a judge for the past two years and has only written 40 opinions. Yes, he may be inexperienced but we hope the Senate gives the man a chance to see if integrity and intelligence can make up for that.

Maybe it will and maybe it won't. The most important thing is to at least give him a fair chance.

After all, what could be more American than that?