Tuesday, July 19, 2005

More Reports on John Roberts' Record

There's more information on Roberts in this report from Alliance for Justice prepared in 2003. (Report in pdf format).

Statement from the Alliance for Justice:


07.19.2005, Washington, DC — Washington, DC-- "At this time, Alliance for Justice cannot support Judge Roberts' elevation to the Supreme Court. While we will be conducting a complete analysis of his record on and off the bench, an initial review has led to serious concerns about whether he will be fair, independent and will protect the rights and freedoms of all Americans.

"As expressed in one case where he would have invalidated a provision of the Endangered Species Act, his exceedingly restrictive view of federal law-making authority more restrictive than the current Supreme Court's could threaten a wide swath of workplace, civil rights, public safety and environmental protections. In his years of service as a political appointee in the administrations of Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, Judge Roberts also helped craft legal policies that sought to weaken school desegregation efforts, the reproductive rights of women, environmental protections, church-state separation and the voting rights of African Americans.

"One wonders why, unlike some reported to have been on the president's short list, Judge Roberts has the support of not only mainstream conservatives, but the radical right as well. Let?s be clear: Judge Roberts is not a stealth nominee, because the president's inner circle knows his views well, even if Americans do not. And given the administration's track record of selecting ideologically-driven, divisive candidates for the bench, it would be unsurprising if Judge Roberts embraces a judicial philosophy that is insensitive to the rights and protections that, over the past century, have brought us closer to realizing the twin ideals of freedom and equality. We hope he doesn't.

"We are eager to find out more about Judge Roberts. We expect the Senate to fulfill its constitutional duty to fully vet Judge Roberts' qualifications, background, and constitutional philosophy to see if he meets the high standards for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. As much as anything, the Senate needs to get a firmer grasp on Judge Roberts' judicial philosophy. His limited judicial experience, coupled with his work at the Justice Department in the Reagan and Bush I administrations, send some distressing signals. Furthermore, there remain many unanswered questions about his views on critical issues.

"The American people must know the whole truth before the Senate decides whether Judge Roberts should sit on our nation?s highest court for life. To that end, the Senate must vigorously exercise its advice and consent duties, and John Roberts must be fully forthcoming. Our rights and freedoms call for nothing less."

More information in this press release from People for the American Way. (Text at link or in comments)


Blogger Ron Chusid said...

From People for the American Way:

John Roberts: Sparse Record Raises Serious Concerns

Opinions and argued cases raise doubts about where Roberts stands on protection of Americans’ constitutional rights and freedoms; Sparse record requires close Senate scrutiny to determine suitability for Court
Federal appeals court Judge John Roberts, nominated by President Bush to the U.S. Supreme Court, has a sparse public record; and several of his judicial opinions and argued cases raise real concerns about his suitability for the Supreme Court, said People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas.

“It is extremely disappointing that the President did not choose a consensus nominee in the mold of Sandra Day O’Connor,” said Neas. “John Roberts’ record raises serious concerns and questions about where he stands on crucial legal and constitutional issues – it will be critical for Senators and the American people to get answers to those questions. Replacing O’Connor with someone who is not committed to upholding Americans’ rights, liberties, and legal protections would be a constitutional catastrophe.”

Roberts was a corporate law firm lawyer for most of his career; where he does have a record, said Neas, Roberts has failed to show a commitment to fundamental civil and constitutional rights, both in his role as a Deputy Solicitor General and as a judge. Neas called on all senators, regardless of political party, to take the time necessary to carefully review Roberts’ complete record and insist that Roberts openly and fully discuss his judicial philosophy on important constitutional and legal issues.

Advocating Against Privacy Rights and First Amendment Protections
As Deputy Solicitor General during the first Bush administration, Roberts tried to convince the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade in a case that didn’t even directly concern that issue. The case, Rust v. Sullivan, dealt with a rule prohibiting federally funded family planning clinics from discussing abortion with patients, not the validity of Roe, which protects a women’s constitutional right to reproductive freedom. Nevertheless, Roberts’ brief proclaimed that “[w]e continue to believe that Roe was wrongly decided and should be overruled” and that the Court’s ruling that a woman has a fundamental right to make her own reproductive choices about abortion has “no support in the text, structure or history of the Constitution.”

Roberts urged the Supreme Court in Lee v. Weisman to rule that public schools can officially sponsor prayer at graduation ceremonies. The Court rejected Roberts’ arguments, upholding the principle of church-state separation that protects students’ and all Americans’ religious freedom.

Undermining Environmental Protections and Rejecting Protections for Veterans
During his short tenure as a judge on the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Curcuit, Roberts has issued troubling dissents against environmental protection and veterans’ rights. In one case, Roberts wrote a dissent suggesting that the Endangered Species Act, at least as applied in a case concerning a California development project, was unconstitutional. All the other judges on the court except one, including judges appointed by President Reagan and the first President Bush, disagreed with Roberts.

In another case, Roberts argued that federal courts cannot even hear claims by American soldiers who had been tortured in Iraq as POWs during the Gulf War. His opinion was rejected by the court’s majority.

The Senate’s Duty
“The Senate is the president’s constitutional partner in appointing people to lifetime positions on the federal courts, especially the Supreme Court” said Neas. “It is the senators’ duty not to act as rubber stamps for the President’s nominees, but to examine carefully all the evidence about the nominee’s record and make an independent judgment. Particularly given Roberts’ sparse public record, confirmation must depend in large part on his willingness to share and defend his legal philosophy and fully answer senators’ questions about his views on our Constitution and protections for our fundamental rights and freedoms.”

For a detailed preliminary report on Roberts’ record, please visit http://media.pfaw.org/roberts.pdf

8:45 PM  
Blogger Todd Mitchell said...

I'll withold any serious comment on Roberts' nomination, though I thought Kerry set the right tone in his statement. While Roberts is certainly "no Sandra Day O'Connor", it's worth noting that Sandra Day O'Connor was "no Sandra O'Connor" when first nominated. She was a rather conservative jurist who would occasionally break ranks with her more conservative bretheren. Ultimately she moved more towards the center.

The best news I heard last night, from Pete Williams on MSNBC who was going through his 2nd Circ. opinions, is that Roberts has occasionally broke ranks with some of the other right wing kooks on the D.C. court (on issues of crime and torts). It's too early to tell, but I don't get the feeling that Roberts is an ideologue in the mode of Bork or Scalia.

9:08 AM  
Blogger Ron Chusid said...

We know Bush is going to appoint a conservative, so the question is whether he is significantly worse that others Bush might consider. We'll see how he does at the hearings.

9:33 AM  

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