Roberts, 50, was nominated by President George W. Bush to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit court in 2001 and was confirmed by the Senate in 2003.
"John Roberts has devoted his entire professional life to the cause of justice," Mr. Bush said in a prime-time announcement at the White House, "and is widely admired for his intellect his sound judgment and his personal decency."
The president said Roberts would "strictly apply the Constitution and laws, not legislate from the bench."
If the Senate confirms his nomination, Roberts would succeed retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who has been known as a "swing vote" on the high court that has been closely divided on issues such as abortion, affirmative action, states' rights and the death penalty.
Roberts, on the other hand, is staunchly conservative. He clerked for Justice William Rehnquist and has served as deputy to then-Solicitor Gen. Kenneth Starr at the Justice Department, reported the L.A. Times. He argued more than 30 cases before the high court.
In brief remarks Tuesday, Roberts said it "is both an honor and very humbling to be nominated to serve on the Supreme Court." He said he has argued numerous cases before the high court during his career, adding, "I always got a lump in my throat whenever I walked up those marble steps to argue a case before the court, and I don't think it was just from the nerves."
The president said he had recently spoken with Senate leaders of both parties and said they "share my goal" of confirmation proceedings conducted with dignity and fairness, according to the Associated Press. The next Supreme Court term begins in October.
Prior to his current position, Roberts practiced law at Hogan & Hartson in Washington, D.C. from 1986-1989 and 1993-2003.
Between 1989 and 1993, he was the principal deputy solicitor general in the first Bush administration, helping formulate the administration's position in Supreme Court cases, reported the Washington Post.
During the Reagan administration, he served as an aide to Attorney General William French Smith from 1981-1982 and as an aide to White House counsel Fred Fielding from 1982-1986.
Roberts graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He was born in 1955 in Buffalo, N.Y., and is married with two children.