STRONG FRONT AGAINST JUDGE ROBERTS

In a strong show of unity, four leading advocacy groups in the LGBT community announced their opposition to President George W. Bush’s nomination of U.S. Court of Appeals Judge John G. Roberts to the Supreme court.

The announcement by the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays came in a written statement issued on August 24.

“For his entire adult life, John Roberts has been a disciple of and promoted a political and legal ideology that is antithetical to an America that embraces all, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people,” said Matt Foreman, the Task Force’s executive director. “He has denigrated the nature and scope of the constitutional rights to privacy, equal protection, and due process as well as federal government’s role in confronting injustice. I have no doubt he’s an accomplished lawyer and an affable dinner companion, but that doesn’t make him any less a mortal danger to equal rights for gay people, reproductive freedom, and affirmation action.”

“Judge Roberts has such a narrow view of what the courts can and should do, it’s a wonder he wants the job at all,” said Joe Solmonese, HRC’s president.

Noting the critical role that the Supreme Court has assumed as a guarantor of individual rights and specifically in the struggle to broaden legal concepts related to LGBT equality, the group argued that his nomination was too big a risk to take, particularly to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who provided key votes in striking down Colorado’s discriminatory Amendment 2 in the 1996 Romer v. Evans ruling and in voiding the nation’s remaining sodomy laws in the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas case. In both rulings, O’Connor based her vote on equal protection grounds.

The statement by the four groups specifically noted that Roberts, in his work as an attorney in the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush had taken very narrow views on the application of equal protection arguments and on the authority of Congress to offer civil rights protections.

Roberts has also shown little sympathy for the right to privacy at the heart of the Lawrence decision—not to mention Roe v. Wade—but has voiced support for the kind of “court-stripping” that the U.S. House tried to pass last year that would have denied federal courts oversight of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

The letter also expressed dismay at the White House refusal to turn over records from Roberts’ time as deputy solicitor general in the George H.W. Bush administration—a position in which he had significant policy-making authority.

Some Senate Democrats, including New York’s Charles Schumer, are pressing hard to reverse that refusal ahead of confirmation hearings next month.

—Paul Schindler

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