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Sept 23, 2005

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Volume 33
Issue 38

 
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Lambda Legal opposes Roberts for Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court
Lambda Legal opposes Roberts for Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court
'John Roberts had every opportunity to demonstrate whether he is committed to fairness and equality, but chose to dodge key questions. He provided no evidence of his commitment to these fundamental principles, and without such a commitment he is not qualified to serve.'

After careful consideration, Lambda Legal announced today its opposition to the nomination of John Roberts for Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Kevin Cathcart, Executive Director of Lambda Legal made the following statement:

"John Roberts had every opportunity to demonstrate whether he is committed to fairness and equality, but chose to dodge key questions. He provided no evidence of his commitment to these fundamental principles, and without such a commitment he is not qualified to serve. As a result, we are opposing his nomination.

"Our position stems from our firm belief that Gay men, Lesbians, Bisexuals, Transgender people and people with HIV must have a level playing field when they appear before the Court. The Constitution requires this and it is every justice's responsibility to ensure that it happens.

"John Roberts has not demonstrated that he will meet this responsibility and therefore is not qualified for a lifetime appointment as Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Lambda Legal opposes his nomination, and we urge the Senate Judiciary Committee and the full Senate to vote 'no' on confirmation."

Among others things, Lambda Legal bases its decision on the following:

1) While Roberts stated that there is a right to privacy in the U.S. Constitution, he refused to elaborate in any meaningful way on its reach. What little can be gleaned from his comments suggests that he could take a very restrictive approach to privacy protections, with an undue emphasis on the country's history and traditions that could disenfranchise minority groups who historically have been denied those protections.

2) Roberts repeatedly refused to answer questions about whether he agreed with Justice Thomas' conclusion, dissenting in Lawrence v. Texas, that sodomy laws criminalizing private adult intimacy do not violate the constitutional right to privacy. This suggests that his conception of privacy protections may be so narrow as to allow for Gay people to be made criminals for private, consensual intimacy between adults.

3) Roberts also refused to answer repeated questions seeking his views on the Supreme Court's analysis in Roe v. Wade, making it impossible to know the extent to which he would honor the underpinnings of this well-established precedent. Roe serves as an important foundation for the Supreme Court's decision to strike down the country's remaining sodomy laws in Lawrence.

4) Roberts further refused to say whether Congress has the power to enact laws prohibiting discrimination against LGBT people and provided no information about how he would analyze that question. This calls into question his deference to Congress' power to legislate to protect important national interests, including civil rights for all.

5) Roberts repeatedly refused to provide substantive answers to questions designed to bring to light more information about his judicial philosophy and how he would analyze key constitutional issues.

In late August, in anticipation of John Roberts's confirmation hearings, Lambda Legal delivered 30 questions to the Senator Judiciary Committee that were designed to determine whether Roberts had a commitment to fairness and equality for LGBT people and people with HIV. The substance of many of those questions were posed to Roberts last week.

Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of Lesbians, Gay men, Bisexuals, Transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.



A Lambda Legal press release

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