Regret Reactivity to John G. Roberts Record ©

I admittedly apologize for my own reactivity.  Earlier in the week, I began writing a missive on Judge John G. Roberts.; the topic was to be, “comparable worth.”  I was inflamed by his positions on women.  However, I was distracted; life took precedence, other issues entered my consciousness, and I delayed in completing my composition.

My head and heart were filled with disdain for the candidate during those days and therefore; I reacted to a report in a less than thoughtful manner.  Instead of continuing my missive on Roberts and women, I wrote of Roberts, the voice of Reagan.  Upon reflection, I realize my words were more reactive than reflective.  My original mission influenced my feelings.  In retrospect, I acknowledge a need to be true; I need to write of what really concerns me and why, and I need to voice my apology for my previous posture.

I will start with my regret and realization and then turn to what is accurate, the deplorable reality of John G. Roberts and his record.  I will write of Roberts and women, Roberts and the Bush administration, Roberts and the law, Roberts the environment, and Roberts on “us,” we the people.

Earlier, I wrote of Roberts being the voice of Ronald Reagan, being the social director for the President, and while he was, with thanks to a dear friend, Mitchell, I realize that this was necessary. Ronald Reagan needed a voice and direction.  John G. Roberts did add a sense of respectability and decorum to the office of the actor-President, one that might have easily been lacking if Reagan was left to fend for himself.

Ronald Reagan was a performer, first and foremost; this helped him to get elected.  Fundraising, flitting from social event to social event was the expertise of this former President.  Mr. Reagan was a celebrity, a star, and clearly not a guiding light.  His mannerisms might have been thought unpolished were they not refined by a man of John Roberts training.  Possibly, were it not for Mr. Roberts, a man of sophistication, the White House could have become “Access Holly-weird” during the Reagan years.

For those that missed the earlier epistle . . . John G. Roberts, the Voice of Ronald Reagan ©

Upon reflection, I am willing to be wrong and to express my regret for reacting to Roberts record as social director.  I needed to address what was truly my concern and not generalize.  However, as I read of Roberts’ doings in reference to etiquette, it became one more thing that gnawed at me.  Now, I am choosing to share some of the background in hopes that you, dear reader might understand why my disregard for the man overwhelmed me.

Initially, I was scripting my response to a news report on Judge Roberts; the topic was “comparable worth.” I was doing research.  I was seeking further information.  The more I found the more contempt I felt. The words Roberts wrote to describe the policy rang in my ears.  The terms were “radical and pernicious.”

In the 1980s, the idea of comparable worth was brought to Congress.  The intent was to equalize wages.  Typically, men were working in positions that paid well.  They were truck-drivers or factory workers; they often did hard labor and were rewarded well for this.  Women, on the other hand, worked in laundries; they served as hotel maids, or did office work.  These positions were thought to be less physically strenuous and therefore, did not reap the same financial rewards.

It was also thought by many that women were meant to work in the home.  If they were out in the workforce, soon, they would “catch” a man”, marry, have babies, and ultimately, stay home.  They would care for their husband’s, raise the children, and that would be their reward.  The profession of homemaker and mother was considered a natural progression and not one that required financial attention.  People presupposed women in the workplace were merely supplementing their income; a man was taking care of their truer needs.

However, in many incidents, this was not the case. Awareness grew as the roles of women expanded.  Women became more educated, demands on them increased. Disparity in wages became an overriding issue.  Congress thought to address this.  For it was obvious, what was once thought to be truth, was no longer.

Many professed shrinking the wage gap would be wise.  Roberts rejected the idea; he stated the idea is “radical and pernicious.”  He went on to question the logic of those in support.  He admonished three Republican Congresswomen who spoke highly of the Bill.  Roberts “sarcastically” compared their positions to that of “Marxist rhetoric!”

National Public Radio’s, Market Place Money offered a comment by Marsha Greenberger, co-President National Women’s Law Center.  Ms. Greenberger stated “His [Roberts] description of what the problems were that women were facing completely eliminated the whole notion of sex discrimination as having any role to play in the lower pay that women received.”

However, Ed Whalen, of the President Conservative Ethics and Public Policy Center spoke in defense of the nominee.  Whalen said ??Roberts had no objection to workplace equality; he simply disagreed with the idea that that judges and bureaucrats should enforce it.’  Whalen continued, “There is nothing that suggests any criticism of the equal pay statute.”  Whalen said, “Indeed, [it is] precisely quite the opposite.”  According to Mr. Whalen, “He [Judge Roberts] explains why equal pay statutes makes sense and why comparable work is such a radical departure from those.”

Yet, as I research, I have reason to differ with Mr. Whalen.  It seems from my reading that John Roberts does not think women equal or worthy of comparable wages.  This is why, when I wrote the Roberts review a day ago, I was not in a place to endorse any actions of this questionable candidate.

It seems from my analysis John G. Roberts thinks women must know their place or at least allow the states to determine what their place is.  As a White house lawyer Roberts wrote many a memorandum stating, that the idea of comparable worth is, “highly objectionable” and probably unconstitutional. “Probably unconstitutional?”  I wonder if that is a code phrase for I personally object.

Roberts raised objections to the proposed Equal Rights Amendment.  He proclaimed the Amendment would “override the prerogatives of the states and vest the federal judiciary with broader powers in this area.”  Again, the attorney turns to legalize and these may be valid points.  However, it is this next statement that I find most revealing.

In a 1985 memo on an award program to honor women who changed fields, John G. Roberts said: “Some might question whether encouraging homemakers to become lawyers contributes to the common good, but I suppose that is for the judges to decide.”  Roberts later married a lawyer, Jane Sullivan Roberts, and therefore, many believe he has grown.  His earlier statements were made twenty years prior.  Yet, for me, thus far, there is no evidence of that he has changed.

The only evidence the public has is the record revealed.

The record shows John Roberts is skeptical when speaking of what he calls, a “so-called” right to privacy.”

While serving as a deputy, to solicitor general Ken Starr, Roberts wrote, what is said to be a superfluous footnote in a brief.  The topic of the brief was family planning funding; the footnote was on Roe v. Wade, a separate issue, yet one Roberts felt a strong need to address.  In the writing, the jurist claimed this case was “wrongly decided and should be overturned.” When asked of the purpose for this annotation, Roberts claimed the addition was a reflection of “administration policy.”  During his appellate court confirmation hearings, the nominee claimed he is mindful; Roe is “settled law.”  However, John G. Roberts has oft-stated his enthusiasm for revisiting this issue.

As a Supreme Court justice, Roberts could be the deciding vote in an abortion rights case.  He could have the power to overturn this decision.  When a man feels compelled to add a postscript to a brief that does not discuss abortion, I think we have reason to suspect he will be an activist judge.

On civil rights and civil liberties, Roberts has a disarming record.

As a member of a three-judge panel on the Washington DC federal court of appeals, Roberts was among those that granted the Bush administration full power to try suspected terrorists without basic due-process protections.  He chose to ignore the provisions of the Geneva Convention.  He denied the principle of man’s humanity to his fellow man.  Roberts preferred being a puppet to the President.  Considering the two have a long-standing relationship this concerns me.

Repeatedly, John G. Roberts comes down on the side of law enforcement.  Roberts thought taking a twelve-year old child into custody, handcuffing her, and removing her from the subway, merely because she was eating French fries, was an “appropriate” action.

In several cases involving car stops and searches, Roberts ruled in favor of the police.  In one incident, the judge decided the U.S. Park Police had the authority to search the trunk of a car during a routine traffic stop.  They had no cause other than their own suspicions; they believed that the vehicle was stolen.  Thankfully, the majority ruled against Judge Roberts.  The other judges decided there were not adequate grounds for this search.  However, there is reason for concern.  In this case, Roberts was over-ruled; will he be in others.

The Fourth Amendment is often in question.  Cases of unreasonable search and seizure come before the Supreme Court regularly.  If the Court becomes more conservative, more rigid, more of an activist body, as it will be with the addition of Judge Roberts, we cannot be certain that our civil rights and liberties will be retained.

Judge John Roberts does not recognize the rights of endangered species.  Mr. Roberts questioned whether the Endangered Species Act applied in a California dispute.  A developer wanted to destroy the habitat of rare toads.  These creatures are found only in the state of California.  Therefore, Mr. Roberts questioned whether the toads were protected.  He argued the Constitution’s commerce clause might not apply when only one state is involved.  While Roberts did not endorse striking down the species act, he questioned the validity in this case.  According to Roberts if only one state is affected, do we need to apply the law?

Oh my.  A judge believes that we can abstain from law if it only applies to one case, one state, or one individual.  Yes, let us deny rights to man, woman, or beast, no matter what the law.  I fear if Roberts is approved, we will all become endangered species; laws be damned.  I fear that, just as he knew what was right and correct for President Reagan, he will believe he knows what is right and correct for us all, regardless of law.

If you prefer to read periodical references directly, please read . . .

Roberts Resisted Women’s Rights, 1982-86 Memos Detail Skepticism, By Amy Goldstein, R. Jeffrey Smith and Jo Becker,Washinton Post

Judge Roberts’s Rules of Law and Order, By Jess Bravin, Wall Street Journal

Reagan Files Paint Court Nominee as a Watchdog By David G. Savage, Richard Simon and Henry Weinstein, of the Los Angeles Times.

Nominee’s Memos Critical of Gender-Equality Efforts, By David G. Savage, of the Los Angeles Times.

Files Detail Roberts’s Reagan Years, By Jess Bravin and Jeanne Cummings, of the Wall Street Journal.

John G. Roberts Dossier Washinton Post

Roberts’ decisions tend to favor police and president, By Gina Holland, Associated Press

Roberts Record, Flood of Files, Awash With What Is Missing ©

Senate Democrats are demanding access to more of John G. Roberts’ writings.  Before they approve the Supreme Court nominee, they wish to know who is this man.  However, information is inaccessible.  The Whitehouse refuses to supply it.  Filibuster is the form that the administration is adopting. The Whitehouse states it has accommodated requests for papers; they have saturated Senate offices with 15,000 pages of text.  These folios document Roberts’ service during the early Reagan years.  Some say, shifting through these sheets of paper is as reading tealeaves; there is much roughage and little of it advances a message.

Senator Patrick Leahy wonders; is the Whitehouse, “flooding us with stacks of really unimportant materials in order to divert attention from those that the matter most.”  One never knows; however, we can surmise.

The documents that were delivered are old. They date back to 1980 -1981.  In these years, Roberts served as a special assistant to Attorney General, William French Smith.  In this position, his power was limited.  His personal and moral views were, rarely, if ever visible. Roberts worked for the Attorney General. The views he expressed were not his own, they were those of his superior.  Therefore, pages from these years reveal little of the man.

The documents from more recent years, those that the Whitehouse states are “secret,” are thought to be of greater importance.  Senators believe the latter pages will divulge more about the man.  The administration argues, these documents do not necessarily offer Roberts’ personal views. Some in the beltway say this stance is the “crown jewel of attorney client privilege.”

In 1989, and through 1993, the ethical and private views of John Roberts were expressed in his work and writings.  During these years, Roberts served as Principal Deputy Solicitor General of the United States.  Roberts worked in the Bush senior Whitehouse.

In this position John G. Roberts personally argued cases on behalf of the United States government.  He formulated opinions and helped to determine when the government would appeal adverse decisions.  Roberts was able to speak for himself in this office.  Access to the pages he generated while holding this post would be quite illuminating, if only this information was available. Thus far, it remains illusive!  The Whitehouse refuses to make these more recent writings public.

There is much that remains private about Supreme Court nominee, John G. Roberts.  The candidate is scripted and encrypted.  Since President George W. Bush recommended the polished, polite, and prominent Harvard-trained attorney, he has traveled from Senate office to Senate office.  Roberts smiles and shakes hands.  He says all the “right” things, and yet, he says nothing!  He is afforded the luxury of “looking good on paper,” at least on the papers that are offered.  However, there are so many pages that are locked and sealed.  Senators and the public alike wonder; how might this man appear on these hidden pages?

There are questions about where Judge Roberts stands on a range of issues.  The most prominent concern is abortion. There is much discussion about the discrepancy of opinions Roberts stated on Roe v. Wade.  Does he consider it “settled law,” or was the decision “wrong”?

When a reporter asked of this inconsistency during a recent meet-and-greet session with Senator Dianne Feinstein [Democrat, California], Judge Roberts smiled.  However, noticeably, he did not reply.  Feinstein looked on quizzically and then interjected, “I don’t think he wants to take any questions.” Roberts added to the Senator’s assessment “No, no, no thanks.”

Senators and the public assess, the nominee speaks on little.  What the Senators know is limited.  What public knows is this.

[The source for the following is On the Issues.  For greater details, please travel to this resource.]

John Roberts On Abortion

• Wife is strongly pro-life. (July 2005)
• Candidate finds no support for abortion rights in Constitution. (July 2005)
• Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided. (July 2005)
• Prohibit family-planning programs from giving abortion info. (July 2005)
• Approves of Operation Rescue targeting abortion clinics. (July 2005)
• Roe v. Wade is settled law. (July 2005)
• Doctors receiving federal funds may not mention abortion to patients. (July 2005)
• Limit funding for abortion clinics. (February 2003)
John Roberts On Budget & Economy

• No stance on record.
John Roberts On Civil Rights

• No paper trail on gay rights issues. (July 2005)

• Approves of religious groups meeting in schools. (July 2005)
• Opposed simplifying complaints against voting rights. (July 2005)
• Weaken the separation of church and state. (July 2005)
• Against Affirmative Action. (February 2003)
• Should make secret settlements in some cases. (January 2003)

John Roberts On Corporations

• Whistleblowers can be fired for cause. (November 2004)
John Roberts On Crime

• Approves of prosecuting persons for eating French fries on city trains. (February 2005)
• Guidelines for parole cannot add to sentence retroactively. (November 2004)
• Police supervisors not liable for misdeeds of officers. (April 2004)
John Roberts On Drugs

• Approves of searching cars without particular evidence in mind. (July 2005)
• Judges cannot overrule guidelines even if unjust. (October 2004)
John Roberts On Education

• No stance on record.
John Roberts On Energy and Oil

• Public committees need not disclose documents. (January 2004)
• Approves of keeping Cheney’s energy task force secret. (September 2003)
John Roberts On Environment

• Allow development despite local endangered species. (July 2005)
• No lawsuits to prevent mining on federal land. (July 2005)
• Federal law does not protect species within one state. (July 2005)
John Roberts On Families & Children

• No stance on record.
John Roberts On Foreign Policy

• No stance on record.
John Roberts On Free Trade

• No stance on record.
John Roberts On Government Reform

• Disabled people can sue government for discrimination. (February 2005)
• Approves of extending time limits for those wishing to sue lawyers for malpractice. (June 2004)
• The Federal Government enjoys sovereign immunity. (January 2003)
John Roberts On Health Care

• No stance on record.
John Roberts On Homeland Security

• Military tribunals for terrorists are valid and just. (July 2005)
• Bar veterans from suing the new Iraqi government. (February 2005)
John Roberts On Immigration

• No stance on record.
John Roberts On Jobs

• Union activists can organize outside of employment place. (July 2005)
John Roberts On Principles & Values

• Opponents will fight to hear these; however, they will hear Roberts’ issue stances. (July 2005)
• Volunteer adviser to Bush in 2000 Florida post-election. (July 2005)
• Adopted two children. (July 2005)
• Public service history precludes “stealth candidate” label. (July 2005)
• An establishment lawyer, with no all-encompassing philosophy. (July 2005)
• Reliable conservative and perfect judicial temperament. (February 2005)
• Positions a lawyer presents do not have to be his own beliefs. (January 2003)
• There are certain areas where literalism does not work. (January 2003)
• There is a right answer in every court case. (January 2003)
John Roberts On Social Security

• No stance on record.
John Roberts On Tax Reform

• No stance on record.
John Roberts On War & Peace

• As student during Vietnam, Roberts was disturbed by anti-war protests. (February 2005)
John Roberts On Welfare & Poverty

• Defended welfare recipients from losing benefits, pro-bono. (July 2005)
Again, the President is the shrewd.  He knowingly chose a candidate with no real paper trail, a man whose credentials are impeccable.  Mr. Bush chose white, “right”, polite, and polished.  John G. Roberts is prominent, posed, and possibly, invincible.  Few doubt there will be any votes against this well-known unknown.

Please read Washington Post, Few Have Felt Beat of Roberts’s Political Heart, by Michael Grunwald and Amy Goldstein

If you, dear reader can reveal more, please do, tell us what you know.  Please, share with your Senators!  Though this Whitehouse is entrenched in secrecy, there are others that believe in freedom and democracy.  I recall the days when . . .

• Since the initial writing of this post,  Voices of dissent are speaking. Senator Edward Kennedy accused Roberts, of having a questionable commitment to civil rights.  Former Democratic senator and vice presidential candidate John Edwards also criticized the Supreme Court nominee.  Edwards stated he is “a partisan for conservative causes.”  However, for the most part, the consensus remains.  Most Democrats state the candidate is “outstanding”.  They trust he will not be a “conservative activist jurist.”  Sadly, we are likely to see.

Update:  You might enjoy reading more.  Brad DeLong writes on, John Roberts’s Judicial Temperament