Thursday, July 21, 2005

Chasing Down the Paper Trail

With little time on the bench, Judge John Roberts has produced a thin paper trail. Reporters, bloggers, opposition researchers, lobbyists, and my Aunt Jernice are all scrambling to dig up as much as they can on a man who's up for a lifetime gig at the Supreme Court.

Here's the early collection of Judge John Roberts' rulings and connections gathered from around the Internet:
  • Ruled against a 12-year-old girl arrested for eating french fries on the DC Metro -- but chastised transit police for their handling of the situation.
  • Was accused in 1997 of making a misleading argument in a case where he represented a pork producer in a clean water case
  • Played a behind the scenes role in the 2000 Flordia recount for the Bush-Cheney campaign
  • Ruled in 2004 against a $1 billion award to 17 American POWs from the 1991 Gulf War
  • He joined a ruling last week upholding the Bush administration's use of military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay
  • Working in the US Soliciter General's office in 1991 -- under the Bush I administration -- he wrote a brief saying: "We continue to believe that Roe [v. Wade] was wrongly decided and should be overruled." He has since said he was a lawyer arguing for his client and the brief does not necessarily reflect his own opinions
  • His wife -- Jane Roberts -- is involved in the antiabortion movement -- providing money and professional advice to Feminists for Life of America
  • And he wrote a minority opinion favoring a shopping mall over an endangered species
  • He dissented when the DC Appeals Court refused to reconsider a ruling that ordered Vice President Dick Cheney to release his energy task force records.
  • He sided with environmental groups arguing -- and winning -- a case before the Supreme Court for a freese on development around Lake Tahoe
  • He has argued both for and against Affirmative Action before the Supreme Court
  • After the Supreme Court ruled on an assisted suicide case, Judge Roberts -- then a private lawyer -- appeared on PBS's The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer saying: "I think it's important not to have too narrow a view of protecting personal rights. The right that was protected in the assisted-suicide case was the right of the people, through their legislatures, to articulate their own views on the policies that should apply in those cases of terminating life, and not to have the court interfering in those policy decisions. That's an important right."
  • Said that "precedents" guarantee stability in our legal system -- but failed to be clear on where he stood on Roe v. Wade
  • has excerpts form Judge Roberts' 67-page questionnaire filed with the Senate Judiciary Committee
  • worked free of charge, behind the scenes in a case that won a landmark case for gay rights activists. The 6-3 decision was considered the most important civil rights victory for the gay rights movement back in 1996. Judge Roberts, then a private lawyer, didn't write the briefs or argue the case before the Court. He did review filings and helped hammer out oral arguments.

From the Washington Post review of 15,000 pages released from Judge Roberts' time in the Reagan administration's Justice Department:

  • presented a defense of bills in Congress that would have stripped the Supreme Court of jurisdiction over abortion, busing and school prayer cases;
  • argued for a narrow interpretation of Title IX, the landmark law that bars sex discrimination in intercollegiate athletic programs
  • counseled his boss on how to tell the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s widow that the administration was cutting off federal funding for the Atlanta center that bears his name
  • argued for restrictions on the rights of prisoners to litigate their grievances
  • depicted as "judicial activism" a lower court's order requiring a sign-language interpreter for a hearing-impaired public school student who had already been given a hearing aid and tutors
  • argued for wider latitude for prosecutors and police to question suspects out of the presence of their attorneys. (WashPost)

SCOTUS -- DOJ Click Supreme Court Image for Judge John G. Roberts Confirmation Information & Links

(Watching Washington) [Photo Credit: The White House]

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