NEW YORK (AP) -- The public policy committee of Conservative Judaism's synagogue union is backing John Roberts for the U.S. Supreme Court, sending a letter to all senators saying "he is qualified to serve" on the basis of criteria "derived from Jewish tradition."
It was the first time the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, with more than 700 member congregations, has taken a stand on a Supreme Court nominee.
Monday's letter said some Conservative Jews might not concur, but the decision by the public policy committee "reflects the position of the United Synagogue."
The committee said Roberts fits criteria it set before he was announced as the nominee, including "wide respect among diverse segments of society," a jurist who is "neither an activist for change nor an unalterable opponent thereof" and demonstrates "balanced respect for foundational documents, reasonable interpretation and societal realities."
United Synagogue public policy director Mark Waldman, also Maryland-based regional director for the synagogue union, said the organization took no stands during previous debates over judicial nominees because it lacked an active public policy program.
Judaism's more liberal Reform branch has been warily pressing for answers about Roberts' judicial outlook, while Orthodox Judaism has issued no statements.