Chief Justice William Rehnquist’s body was still warm when George W. Bush rushed to announce that he was nominating Judge John G. Roberts Jr. to replace him. This is the same Roberts that Bush named earlier to replace Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Bush has two slots to fill in his drive to pack the high court with right-wing extremists.

The haste was partly driven by Bush’s intense need to “change the subject” away from angry charges that he displayed indifference to the suffering of millions of Americans affected by Hurricane Katrina, and that he badly bungled both disaster prevention and rescue efforts.

But Sen. Patrick Leahy, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said it was unseemly, in light of the hurricane disaster and Rehnquist’s death just days earlier, to forge ahead with confirmation hearings. So the hearings were postponed a few days.

But an ethical transgression by Roberts has come to light that shows him unfit for a seat on the highest court. In July this year, Roberts sat on a three-judge D.C. Court of Appeals panel reviewing the “Hamden” case. Hamden is one of the hundreds of people held without due process rights at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Yet at that very time, Roberts was interviewing for the Supreme Court position with some of the very same administration officials named in the Hamden lawsuit. On July 15 Roberts met with Bush, also a named defendant in the lawsuit. Soon after, Roberts joined with the other appellate judges in upholding Bush’s authority to imprison these so-called “enemy combatants” without due process. And shortly after that, Bush nominated him to the Supreme Court. It raises an obvious question: Was Roberts’ nomination to the high court a payback for his vote to support Bush’s extrajudicial powers to imprison these prisoners indefinitely? Or, was Roberts’ decision a “thank you” for his promised promotion?

Either way, Roberts should decline the nomination and if he fails to do so, the Senate should vote to disqualify him. We urge a hurricane of angry messages to senators demanding that they reject Roberts, a corporate hatchet man and an enemy of the Bill of Rights.