Who is John Roberts?
September 2005

John Roberts is not the consensus nominee for Supreme Court that the Bush Administration would have us believe, panelists told an audience at the Civic Media Center Sept. 6th.

Feminists and civil rights lawyers said that Roberts' views are anti-affirmative action, anti-abortion, anti-worker protection and anti-government regulation.

"It's the people's court," Andrea Costello told the crowd, "we have a right to demand that it represent the majority of us in the U.S." Roberts views are extremely conservative.

With the Sept. 3 death of Chief Justice William Rehnquist, Bush changed his nomination of John Roberts to nominate him for Chief Justice. The change is not just procedural, panelists noted, as the chief justice sets the tone for the Court.

Roberts was picked for the high-up post of Deputy Solicitor General in the Reagan and elder Bush administrations. The Solicitor General's office was created by Reagan as a political arm of the executive to push conservative views at the Supreme Court. That Roberts was picked for such a role, and that he often took positions so extreme that the Reagan administration backed away from them, runs counter to the prevailing Bush position that "he didn't mean that stuff, he was just doing his job," panelists said.

Stephanie Seguin, of Gainesville Women's Liberation, gave a rundown of Roberts position on women's rights, noting that he has often said that Roe was "wrongly decided," including in a brief he wrote in which the reference was irrelevant to the issue at hand.

In private practice, Roberts defended large corporations against their workers and against federal health and environmental regulations.

Senate hearings are expected to begin next week. Panelist Natalie Maxwell noted that public pressure, even if it does not succeed in defeating the Roberts nomination, will put Roberts and the Senate on notice that the public is not willing to accept anti-democratic decisions made by the court.

For more on Roberts' record see www.SupremeCourtWatch.org. www.now.org, www.naacpldf.org, and www.pfaw.org.

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