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Thursday, September 15, 2005

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 Why I oppose John Roberts

John Roberts is unqualified to be Supreme Court Justice, but not for the reasons the left is talking about.

I don't believe Roberts is a conservative, but rather a radical right-winger. Keep in mind that this is a nomination where the guy who endorses torture (Gonzales) was seen as the liberal. Roberts' radicalism would tip the balance of the court in a direction that is profoundly hostile to the civil liberties Americans are guaranteed. As Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council stated shortly after Roberts' nomination, "The President... promised to nominate someone along the lines of a Scalia or a Thomas and that is exactly what he has done."

Roberts' proclivity to extremism is a good reason to oppose him, but it is not my reason.

I also believe that Roberts is on the wrong side of privacy issues. As Deputy Solicitor General, Roberts co-authored an amicus curiae brief in the Supreme Court on behalf of the government in support of the domestic terrorist group Operation Rescue and six individuals who had obstructed access to reproductive health care clinics. Notably, the government was not a party in the case and need not have filed a brief.

Opposing Roberts based on his views on the Constitutionality of privacy is a good reason to oppose him, but it is not my reason.

It is also certain that Roberts opposes religious liberty. In 1991, as Deputy Solicitor General, Roberts co-authored an amicus curiae brief filed by the United States in the case of Lee v. Weisman, 505 U.S. 577 (1992), in which he urged the Court to rule that it was constitutional for a public school to sponsor prayer at its graduation ceremonies. The conservative Justice Kennedy authored a 5-4 decision against Roberts' position. Notably, the government was not a party to this case and need not have filed a brief. Had the position advocated by Roberts been accepted, students in public schools would have been subjected to religious coercion as the price of attending their own graduation ceremonies.

Roberts' opposition to religious freedom is a good reason to oppose him, but it is not my reason.


Why, then, do I oppose John Roberts?

Bush values loyalty over all else, even competence. Whether it is the purging of CIA officers believed to have been disloyal, or the failure to fire those responsible for Abu Ghraib, or the requirement of signing a loyalty oath, Bush demands loyalty.

Roberts demonstrated his loyalty by helping Bush "win" the presidency in 2000. Roberts advised Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on how his Legislature might name George W. Bush as the winner of the state's crucial presidential vote in 2000. In exchange, Bush's first two nominations to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia curcuit -- generally regarded as the stepping-stone to the Supreme Court -- went to Roberts and Miguel Estrada, who had played important behind-the scenes roles in the Florida litigation.

As a judge, Roberts again demonstated loyalty to Bush by joining a ruling that upheld the Bush administration's use of military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay to try battlefield captives and terror suspects, whose access to evidence and rights of appeal are limited.

Roberts loyalty to the Bush regime was further demonstrated when he dissented from his court's refusal to reconsider a ruling that ordered Vice President Dick Cheney to release records of his energy task force.

Roberts' personal loyalty to Bush is the best reason I can find to oppose his nomination. I fear most that such loyalty will erase the final vestiges of independence that the founders designed into this democracy.

Before you dismiss my opinion as just that of one individual, ask retiring US Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor to give you her perspective. O'Conner recently lamented there was a new tendency in Congress to second-guess every decision by the high court, and that action has caused tension between the two branches of government.

"In all my years of my life I don't think I've ever seen relations (between Congress and the high court) as strained as they are now," O'Connor told a conference of judges and lawyers at the 9th Circuit Judicial Conference in Spokane, Washington.

She said an integral part of the democracy that the United States is promoting around the world is an independent court system.

"And yet, in our country today, we're seeing efforts to prevent that -- a desire not to have an independent judiciary. That worries me," she said.

It worries me as well, which is why I oppose John Roberts' nomination.

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