WASHINGTON, Sept. 29 (UPI) -- John Roberts was formally sworn in Thursday as the 17th chief justice of the United States.
A few hours after the U.S. Senate voted to confirm Roberts' nomination, John Paul Stevens, the senior associate justice, administered a constitutional oath to Roberts in a public White House ceremony. Roberts also, in a private ceremony, took a judicial oath, the Supreme Court said on its Web site.
The court said both oaths were administered Thursday so Roberts could immediately begin work to prepare for the Supreme Court's term, which opens Monday.
The Senate voted 78-22 -- with 22 Democrats and the Senate's lone independent joining the 55 Republicans in supporting Roberts -- to place the 50-year-old judge at the head of the country's high court.
Roberts thanked President Bush and said, "There is no way to repay the confidence you have shown in me, other than to do the best job I possibly can do, and I will try to do that every day."
Bush said, "As Judge Roberts prepares to lead the judicial branch of government, all Americans can be confident that the 17th chief justice of the United States will be prudent in exercising judicial power, firm in defending judicial independence, and above all, a faithful guardian of the Constitution."
Bush is expected soon to announce his nominee to replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who has said she wants to retire from the court.