Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Rights Groups Wary of Bush's Court Nominee

(Linky-pops to article) How far to the Right does he really swing? Let the scrutiny begin!


LNewsEditor said...

JIC Post:

President George W. Bush tilted young and conservative with Judge John G. Roberts, filling his first Supreme Court vacancy with a 50-year-old jurist who could leave an indelible right-leaning imprint on the nation's judiciary.

With Republicans controlling the White House and the Senate, the president sought to reward his conservative supporters with a Supreme Court nominee positioned to the right of the political center. The only question was how far to the right he would go. The answer, it appears, is far enough to please his hard-line conservative base, but not much farther.

Gay rights groups are wary of Roberts.

"While we are continuing our review of Judge Roberts, we already know that we have reasons for serious concern," said Kevin Cathcart, executive director of Lambda Legal. "There are a number of issues that are important in determining whether a nominee will respect the rights of all Americans. Judge Roberts' track record on reproductive freedom, privacy and federalism (respect for Congress' power to enact important statutes like civil rights laws) merits particular scrutiny."

Added Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force: "We especially call upon our allies in the Senate to determine whether Judge Roberts subscribes to the holdings of Romer v. Evans and Lawrence v. Texas, among other cases, and will affirm that the civil rights and privacy rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans are protected by the Constitution.

Democrats acknowledged privately that Roberts' thin record does not lend itself easily to attack, though they are troubled particularly about his views on abortion. There will be a fight, they predicted, but it will probably not be epic. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat of Nevada, did not sound like a man throwing down the gauntlet when he said, "The president has chosen someone with suitable legal credentials, but that is not the end of our inquiry."

Even the criticism of special interest groups sounded halfhearted. "John Roberts' record raises serious concerns as well as questions about where he stands on crucial legal and constitutional issues," said Ralph Neas, president of the liberal People for the American Way. He expressed disappointment in the pick, but did not call on Democrats to defeat it.

Roberts would replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, an appointee of former President Ronald Reagan who often provided the deciding vote in split decisions. Conservative leaders who helped elect Bush made it clear this was payback time: They wanted a nominee with a long and clear record of social conservatism who could tip the court to the right on abortion, gay rights, prayer in schools and other hot-button issues.

They got what they wanted—to a point.

Conservative leaders said they would have been happier with Bush's short-list candidates who have longer and clearer records of conservatism, such as Judge J. Michael Luttig of the 4th U.S. Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virgina, and Judge Janice Rogers Brown of the U.S. Appeals Court in Washington. But they felt they had narrowly avoided disaster after rumors spread through Washington that Bush had selected Judge Edith Clement, a federal appeals court judge who is considered more moderate than Roberts.

On the other side of the partisan divide, Democrats were braced to fight tooth-and-nail against Luttig or Brown. The party's private research memo into Clement grudgingly acknowledged that "it is difficult to discern a strict hard-right ideology" in her.

Abortion rights groups have maintained that he tried during Roberts' days as a lawyer in the first Bush administration to overturn Roe v. Wade. Pressed in 2003 for his personal views on the matter, Roberts said the landmark court decision legalizing abortion "is the settled law of the land." At age 50, he could reshape the court for a generation or more.

There are four death penalty cases for the fall term, and O'Connor was often the key swing vote in such decisions. On abortion, she has been the deciding vote in striking down laws that don't have an exception for a woman's health. (, Ron Fournier, AP)

WordyGrrl said...

I have three worries about this guy:
He's only been a judge for two years, nobody seems to know much about where he stands on things and he's only 50. He could be wearin' that robe and makin' our lives heck for a looong time.