WASHINGTON -- Citing concerns that "his heart is not as big as his head," Minority Leader Harry Reid, the Senate's top Democrat, announced yesterday that he would vote against John G. Roberts Jr., President Bush's choice to serve as the next chief justice of the United States.
Reid was the first Democrat to formally state his position on Roberts' nomination. Reid, of Nevada, insisted that his decision should not be seen as a party position and other Democrats should vote as they see fit.
However, because Reid is a centrist Democrat who opposes abortion, his opposition was seen as a signal that many, and perhaps most, Democrats were likely to come out against the 50-year-old appeals court judge.
Roberts faces two Senate votes - one by the Judiciary Committee tomorrow and one on the floor of the Senate next week. With Republicans in the majority, Democrats have only one tool to stop a nomination, the filibuster, but they have indicated that they will not use it to block this nomination.