WASHINGTON – As a lawyer in the Reagan White House, John Roberts scoffed at the notion of elevating Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor to chief justice as a way to close a political gender gap, calling it a “crass political consideration.”
On another topic, Roberts, who was nominated as a justice by President Bush last month, advised the White House to strike language from a description of a housing bill that referred to the “fundamental right to be free from discrimination.” He said that “there of course is no such right.”
More than 38,000 pages of documents released this week by the National Archives offer new details that portray Roberts as embracing the conservative philosophy of the Reagan administration.
Some Democrats and liberal interest groups called anew on Friday for the release of more documents that might shed light on Roberts’ views. His confirmation hearings are to begin Sept. 6.
“Many of the documents made it clear that as a junior official in the Reagan administration, he was part of an intense effort to impede progress on numerous key issues, such as progress on equal rights for women,” said Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., a member of the Judiciary Committee that will consider Roberts’ nomination.
As you can see, liberal demagogues like Ted Kennedy are already jumping on this as “evidence” of Roberts’ opposition to civil and gender rights advancements, but is it really? Consider, for a moment, what Roberts was talking about. He was responding to the idea that O’Connor should have been promoted to chief justice based on her gender. He said that this would be a “crass” political move, and he was right. It would have been a crass political move. After all, decisions like that should be based on job performance and ability, not gender.
As for Roberts’ saying that there is no “fundamental right” to be free from discrimination, consider this from the same article:
Among the documents that have been released, in a June 14, 1983, memo, Roberts showed skepticism toward an expansive view of “fundamental rights” under the Constitution when commenting on a housing discrimination bill.
“Fundamental rights” is a legal concept that has been used to justify a broad array of civil rights under the Constitution, including a right to privacy.
Noting that the proposed administration bill would justify penalties by pointing to a “fundamental right to be free from discrimination,” Roberts advised that the language be deleted.
“There is of course no such right; at the very least ‘illegal’ should modify ‘discrimination,'” Roberts wrote. “More significantly, ‘fundamental right’ is a legal term of art triggering strict judicial scrutiny.”
Clearly, putting such broad language about “fundamental rights” into legislation would be a mistake. The term “discrimination” can refer to more than the race, religion or gender based decision making we typically think of. An employer refusing to hire people who have been convicted of a felony could be said to be “discriminating” as could a financial lender choosing not to loan money to somebody with poor credit.
Certain types of discrimination are illegal, but not all types of discrimination. Roberts was making a legal point about that fact, and he was (as he usually is) 100% correct. He wanted the language in the bill narrowed down to refer to only “illegal” discrimination, and his opinion brought about that very change in the final draft of the legislation in question.
You know what’s getting sad? The fact that long explanations like the one I just engaged in are necessary to correct the media and the political left’s consistent attempts to skew facts found about Roberts in these released documents. NARAL already tried, through distortion, to suggest that Roberts supports violent anti-abortion protests. Just three days ago it came to light that anti-Roberts politicos were going so far as to examine his childhood for things they could use against him.
The fact that Roberts’ political enemies have to stoop so low in order to smear him should tell even the most casual observer of his appointment process that he is eminently qualified for this position.
By Rob Port of Say Anything.