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3:12 PM PDT, August 25, 2005
latimes.com : National News
Gay Rights Groups Oppose Roberts' Nomination
By Maura Reynolds, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
WASHINGTON -- Despite John G. Roberts Jr.'s legal help in a landmark Supreme Court victory for gay rights, four leading gay rights organizations said today that they have decided to oppose his nomination to the high court.
The four — Human Rights Campaign, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, National Center for Lesbian Rights, and Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays — argued that nearly all of Roberts' record suggested that he would be unsympathetic to gay rights cases.
"His writings as a lawyer, his rulings as a judge and his statements as a policymaker all lead us to the unfortunate conclusion that Judge Roberts would not vote to protect our civil rights from those who are, at this moment, fighting so hard to take them away," the groups said in a statement.
White House spokesman Steve Schmidt said the administration was unconcerned about the statement because it expected liberal advocacy groups to oppose the nominee.
"There are a great many groups that made a decision a long time ago to oppose whomever President Bush put forward for the Supreme Court. The only question was the date," Schmidt said. "The answer for these groups is Aug. 25."
As a lawyer in private practice, Roberts advised gay rights advocates and helped them prepare arguments for a case they won before the Supreme Court in 1996. In the decision, known as Romer vs. Evans, the court voted 6 to 3 to strike down a Colorado ballot initiative that would have allowed employers and landlords to exclude gays from jobs and housing.
Roberts' participation in the Romer case, as part of the pro bono practice in his Washington law firm, caused some concern among religious conservatives who are major supporters of President Bush and who oppose granting legal benefits to people with a lifestyle they find immoral.
Gay rights advocates said that Robert's assistance in the case — which White House officials estimated at fewer than 10 hours' work — was not enough to allay concerns raised by the rest of his record.
"It's interesting, but not especially informative," said Joe Solomonese, president of Human Rights Campaign.
One gay rights organization not included in the statement is the Log Cabin Republicans, the major national group for Republican gays and lesbians. In an interview, the group's political director, Chris Barron, said the group has not yet taken a position on Roberts' nomination.
"We are in a wait and see mode right now," Barron said, adding that "it's too early to tell" whether his group will decide to support Roberts. "A lot of this is going to come down to what we hear and what we see during the confirmation hearings."
In their statement, the gay rights groups said Roberts' record indicated that he "would vote to roll back the constitutional protections upon which our community — and all Americans — rely."
The groups said that all the material made available by the Bush administration suggested that Roberts is skeptical of the legal rationales that underlie most court rulings cherished by the gay community: the right to privacy and equal protection under the law.
"Ultimately, this is about an individual's right to privacy," said Solomonese. "From women's rights to religious freedom to civil rights, there is powerful evidence that Judge Roberts would rule against equality."
Gay Rights Groups Urge Defeat of Nominee
Appeals Court Judge's Ideology Is Called 'a Mortal Danger to Equal Rights'
By Jim VandeHei
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 26, 2005; Page A02
Leading gay rights groups yesterday dismissed as inconsequential Judge John G. Roberts Jr.'s pro bono work on a gay rights case in the 1990s and came out in strong opposition to his nomination to the Supreme Court.
"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 transgender people," Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, said in a statement. "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 affirmative action."
Some Democratic senators thought gay rights groups would hold their fire because Roberts provided assistance to lawyers in the 1996 Romer v. Evans case, a Supreme Court decision that solidified legal protections for gays. But the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays issued a statement saying his involvement was minor.
"We are mindful that Judge Roberts provided a few hours of pro bono help to the attorneys in Romer v. Evans -- a landmark case for our community," the organizations said. "Some have said that this work -- which consisted mostly of playing the role of a conservative justice -- demonstrates that Roberts is not personally anti-gay. This theory is not relevant to the important issue for our community: how Roberts would vote as a Supreme Court justice." Conservatives generally agree with the assessment that Roberts's work in the case was neither consequential nor indicative of his views on gay rights, though some were initially critical.
Echoing many of the concerns voiced by other liberal interest groups, the gay rights organizations said Roberts appears hostile to civil rights, personal privacy and individual freedoms. "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 Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "Ultimately, this is about an individual's right to privacy. From women's rights to religious freedom to civil rights, there is powerful evidence that Judge Roberts would rule against equality."
In highlighting their concern, the groups pointed to Lawrence v. Texas , in which the high court ruled in favor of legal and privacy protections for gays, overruling the state legislature. In recently released memos, Roberts has raised questions about courts intruding into areas where legislatures should rule.
The organizations are largely basing their opinions on Roberts's work for President Ronald Reagan more than 20 years ago, when the nominee was an employee at the Justice Department and then in the White House counsel's office. The National Archives has released 60,000 papers that include Roberts's views from that period. In most cases, the papers show a young lawyer opining on the key issues of the day, including affirmative action and equal protection for women and gays.
With the Senate Judiciary Committee's confirmation hearings nearing, liberal interest groups are pressuring Democratic senators to oppose Roberts and subject him to tough questioning about his views on issues such as gay rights and abortion. The first phase of their strategy is for different groups to announce their opposition on different days to create an impression of growing anti-Roberts momentum in the run-up to the hearings.
"There are a great many groups that determined they would oppose whomever President Bush nominated," White House spokesman Steve Schmidt said. "The only open question was which day they would do it."
As part of an effort to defend Roberts, a number of black leaders, including Niger Innis of the Congress of Racial Equality and Robert L. Woodson Sr. of the National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, endorsed the nominee yesterday. "A large segment of the African American community . . . is standing firmly behind John Roberts . . . and his judicial philosophy," Innis said.
Leading gay groups oppose Roberts
Ann Rostow, PlanetOut Network
Thursday, August 25, 2005 / 02:48 PM
SUMMARY: Four leading LGBT rights groups issued a joint press release expressing opposition to the nomination of John Roberts to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Four of the leading LGBT rights organizations issued a joint press release Thursday, shifting from "grave concern" to direct opposition to the nomination of John Roberts to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The announcement follows a similar statement last week from People for the American Way, and mirrors the objections detailed in a lengthy People for the American Way report.
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) joined the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the Human Rights Campaign and Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays in denouncing the candidate. The Task Force's chief Matt Foreman called Roberts "a mortal danger to equal rights for gay people, reproductive freedom and affirmative action."
The progressive opposition is largely based on a slew of materials released in recent weeks that covered Roberts' stint as assistant to the attorney general from 1981 to 1982, and later as associate counsel to Ronald Reagan from 1982 to 1986. Roberts, who is now 50, was in his 20s through most of these years.
His mid-career records are not available. After a period in private practice, Roberts worked as deputy solicitor general from 1989 to 1993. The Bush administration has declined to make public his work produced during this period, despite repeated requests from Democratic senators.
Roberts returned to private practice in the mid-90s, before taking a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in 2003. There, he has made his presence felt in a handful of cases, none of which directly address gay rights issues.
His confirmation hearings begin Sept. 6 in the Senate, where many activists hope members of the Judiciary Committee will pin down the nominee on his views of the Constitution, whether rigid or expansive.
Spokesmen for Lambda Legal and the Log Cabin Republicans both stressed the importance of the hearings, declining to take a stand on Roberts until the process is complete. Paul Cates of the American Civil Liberties Union's Lesbian and Gay Rights Project said the ACLU generally does not take an up or down position on potential nominees.
In their collective statement, the four gay rights groups cited Reagan-era memos as evidence that Roberts has a cramped view of the Equal Protection Clause, does not believe in a fundamental right to privacy and looks kindly on the notion that Congress has the power to strip courts of jurisdiction over various areas.
The statement also took negative note of his 1985 recommendation that Reagan steer clear of telling an audience that HIV could not be spread through casual contact. "There is much to commend the view that we should assume AIDS can be transmitted through casual or routine contact, as is true with many viruses, until it is demonstrated that it cannot be," Roberts advised.
Speaking to the PlanetOut Network, NGLTF's Foreman said the decision to oppose Roberts was not a display of knee-jerk hostility, but was based on the narrow constitutional ideology laid out in the gathered materials. Although the activists will follow the hearings with interest, Foreman does not expect the nominee to display a new and improved judicial philosophy.
By contrast, University of Minnesota Law Professor Dale Carpenter recalled the progressive dismay at the time of the nominations of Sandra Day O'Connor and Anthony Kennedy, two conservatives who emerged as swing votes on the Court.
"I'm not saying Roberts is going to turn out to be the next John Paul Stevens," said Carpenter. "He's not. But we just can't expect that kind of pick out of this president. And it would be better for us to keep our powder dry for a pick that is likely to be much more conservative and more obviously anti-gay than this person is."
|| News ||
August 26, 2005
Gay groups go on record opposing Roberts's nomination - Advocate
Officials from the gay rights groups Human Rights Campaign, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, National Center for Lesbian Rights, and Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays said Thursday that they will oppose the nomination of John Roberts to the U.S. Supreme Court.
"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," Matt Foreman, executive director of NGLTF, said in a statement. "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 affirmative action."
The confirmation hearings for Roberts, 50, are set to be held before the U.S. Senate on September 6. He is widely expected to be confirmed.
For gay men and lesbians, Roberts has become a very perplexing candidate.
Conservatives cite his work in the Reagan and first Bush administrations against Roe v. Wade. That case hinged on the same privacy rights that underlie Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down sodomy laws across the country. However, Roberts did pro bono work helping prep the pro-gay civil rights attorneys who won the landmark 1996 Supreme Court decision overturning Colorado's Amendment 2. The 1992 ballot measure prohibited any state or local law protecting gays from discrimination.
"Ultimately this is about an individual's right to privacy. From women's rights to religious freedom to civil rights, there is powerful evidence that Judge Roberts would rule against equality," said Joe Solmonese, HRC president.
For Immediate Release:
Thursday, Aug. 25, 2005
HRC, THE TASK FORCE, NCLR AND PFLAG ANNOUNCE OPPOSITION TO ROBERTS’ NOMINATION
by alfayoko2005 | 2005-08-26 13:06