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.
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