Appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court
Responses to the
nomination of Judge Roberts
On 2005-JUL-19, President Bush nominated John G. Roberts, "a rigid
conservative" as his selection to replace Justice O'Connor who announced her
retirement from the U.S. Supreme Court. He is currently a U.S. Appeals Court
judge in the District of Columbia with "a deep Republican pedigree" who
has been under fire for his views against abortion access long before he was
nominated to the Supreme Court. President Bush referred to Judge Roberts as one
of the great legal minds of his generation. He said: "John Roberts has
devoted his entire professional life to the cause of justice. He is a man of
extraordinary accomplishments. He has a good heart."
With the death of Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist on 2005-SEP-03, President Bush
nominated Judge John Roberts to be the new chief justice. Until Roberts was
installed as chief justice on 2005-OCT-03, Justice Stevens functioned as the acting chief justice. In the meantime, Justice Sandra Day
O'Connor has delayed her resignation until her replacement is installed.
Reactions to the nomination of John Roberts:
|There are rumors that conservative and liberal advocacy groups have
amassed war chests totaling in excess of 100 million dollars to fight for
and against the nomination of a strict constructionist to the Supreme Court.|
|On JUL-19, the evening of the nomination, Progress for America,
whose name sounds liberal, but is really a conservative group, held a rally
in front of the Supreme Court building in Washington DC. Members carried
signs reading "Confirm."|
|People for the American Way, whose name sounds conservative, but
is really a liberal group, sent out 400,000 Emails opposing the nomination,
within minutes of the announcement. They commented:|
"What we know about
John Robert's record as Deputy Solicitor General and as a judge shows a
troubling lack of concern for the fundamental civil and constitutional
rights of all Americans. Americans deserve a justice who will protect our
rights and freedoms. Serious questions must be addressed before Robert's
nomination to the nation's highest court can be evaluated properly."
"Some alarming aspects of Robert's record they must consider include:"
|Reproductive and Privacy Rights: Roberts urged the Supreme
Court to overturn Roe v. Wade while arguing before the Court as Deputy
Solicitor General in a case that did not even directly concern that
issue. His brief plainly states that "Roe was wrongly decided and should
|Separation of Church and State: Roberts argued against clear
First Amendment protections for religious liberty and in favor of
officially sponsored school prayer at graduation ceremonies before the
Supreme Court, which rejected his argument.|
|Environmental Protections: As a judge, Roberts suggested in a
dissent that the Endangered Species Act was unconstitutional as applied
to a California development case.|
|Veteran Protections: Roberts argued American POWs tortured in
Iraq during the Gulf War should not be able to utilize federal courts to
pursue their claims.|
|Excessive Arrest Procedures: Roberts ruled against a 12-year
old girl who was handcuffed, arrested and taken away by police for
eating a single French fry on the D.C. Metro, even though an adult would
only have gotten a paper citation in that situation.
|Patrick Leahy (D-VT) ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee asked
for: "the cooperation of the nominee and the administration" in the
confirmation process. He promised to give Judge Roberts a fair hearing but
not a "rubber stamp." He said: "We need to consider this nomination as
thoroughly and carefully as the American people deserve. No one is entitled
to a free pass to a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court."|
|NARAL Pro-Choice America opposed Roberts when he was nominated to
the appeals court because they say he worked to overturn Roe v. Wade -- the
Supreme Court decision that made early abortions freely available.|
|The American View radio program expressed concern that John
Roberts is "pro-abortion." They quote part of Robert's speech at his
confirmation hearing for an appointment to Court of Appeals. He said:|
"Roe v. Wade is the settled law of the land. It is not -- it's
a little more than settled. It was reaffirmed in the face of a challenge
that it should be overruled in the Casey decision. Accordingly, it's the
settled law of the land. There's nothing in my personal views that would
prevent me from fully and faithfully applying that precedent, as well as
Michael Peroutka of GodFamilyRepublic.com commented:
"This is a very
significant admission because Roberts is saying he has no personal view that
in any way sees abortion --- the murder of innocent, unborn children --- as
being wrong. And this is why he will uphold all the Supreme Court decisions
making abortion 'legal'."
Peroutka also concluded that Roberts is not a
|Attorney General Alberto Gonzales pointed out in an interview with the
Associated Press that for judges in lower courts, the Roe v. Wade ruling firmly
established a woman's right to an early abortion. However, a Supreme Court
justice does not have to follow a previous ruling by that court. In
Lawrence v. Texas the Court overturned a previous
decision which had criminalized some forms of sexual behaviors and even
apologized for its mistake. If Roberts' nomination were to be approved, he would
be quite free to vote in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade. Gonzales said: "If
you're asking a circuit court judge, like Judge Roberts was asked, yes, it is
settled law because you're bound by the precedent, If you're a Supreme Court
justice, that's a different question because a Supreme Court justice is not
obliged to follow precedent if you believe it's wrong."
|Senator John Comyn (R-TX) interviewed Judge
Roberts on JUL-25. Roberts assured him that he would rule on the law without
being influenced by his religion. He is a Roman Catholic. Comyn said: "He
recognized that anybody who cannot do that ... is unsuitable for the bench."
This could be a factor in such matters as abortion access,
the death penalty, and equal
rights for homosexuals -- including same-sex marriage
-- all which the Church opposes. When asked what he would do if the constitution
and precedent required him to rule in favor of a matter that his Church
considered immoral, Roberts responded that he would probably have to recuse
himself. 5 However, a later
report indicated that he "responded that his personal views would not
color his judicial thinking ? as he has testified in the past." 6|
|The Washington Post stated that: "In
a series of interviews in recent days, more than a dozen Democratic senators
and aides who are intimately involved in deliberations about strategy said
that they see no evidence that most Democratic senators are prepared to
expend political capital in what is widely seen as a futile effort to derail
the nomination." 7|
Judge Roberts' nomination was approved by the
Senate by a vote of 77 to 23. He was installed as the 17th justice of the U.S.
Supreme Court on 2005-OCT-03.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- "Bush nominates Roberts to Supreme Court. Republicans praise nominee as
Dems vow thorough review," CNN News, 2005-JUL-20, at:
- "Roberts Nomination Raises Red Flags. Tell the Senate to Do Its Duty --
Don't Rubber Stamp!," People for the American Way, Emailed news release,
2005-JUL-19 at 10:23.
- "15th 'American View' Radio Show Exposes Pro-Abortion View Of Bush Nominee
John Roberts, Hear It Now,"
- "AG: High Court not bound by Roe v. Wade,"
Associated Press, 2005-JUL-26, at:
- Thomas Ferraro, "Supreme Court nom Roberts gives assurances -senator,"
Reuters, 2005-JUL-25, at:
- Bret McAtee, "Supreme Nonsense," The Backwater Report, 2005-AIUG-03,
- Mike Allen and Dana Milbank, "Roberts Unlikely To Face Big Fight. Many
Democrats See Battle as Futile." Washington Post, 2005-AUG-16, Page A01.
Copyright © 2005 to 2009 by Ontario Consultants on
Latest update: 2009-JUL-17
Author: B.A. Robinson