ACLU Calls for Full Examination of Roberts' Positions; Notes Influence In Troubling Reagan, Bush I Administration Cases

July 19, 2005

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Media@dcaclu.org

WASHINGTON -- The American Civil Liberties Union today expressed deep concern about some of the civil liberties positions advocated by Judge John Roberts, President Bush's choice to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court.

While serving as principal deputy solicitor general from 1989-1993, he authored briefs calling for Roe v. Wade to be overruled, supporting graduation prayer, and seeking to criminalize flag burning as a form of political protest.

"All these positions were rejected by the Supreme Court," said Steven Shapiro, the ACLU's National Legal Director. "But the Supreme Court remains closely divided on many of these questions."

As a senior Justice Department official, Roberts was in a position to help shape the government's legal positions as well as represent them.

At a minimum, the Senate should determine the extent to which the positions taken in these briefs also reflect Roberts's personal views.

Judge John Roberts was appointed to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in May 2003. He received his undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard University and clerked for Justice Rehnquist. He served in a number of positions in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, including as principal deputy solicitor general from 1989 to 1993.

"The Supreme Court has played a pivotal role in advancing freedom," said Anthony D. Romero, ACLU Executive Director. "Without the Supreme Court, the South would still be segregated, illegal abortions would be claiming thousands of lives, the indigent would have no right to a lawyer, and lesbian and gay Americans could be imprisoned for their private sexual conduct."

"The stakes could not be higher," Romero added.

The ACLU will only oppose a Supreme Court nominee on a majority vote of its 83 person national board.

 

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