ACLU Calls for Full Release of Roberts' Records, Urges Careful Consideration As Senate Committee Approves Nominee for Next Chief Justice

September 22, 2005 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – Following today’s vote by the Senate Judiciary Committee to confirm John Roberts as the next chief justice of the United States, the American Civil Liberties Union expressed its deep concern about his civil liberties and civil rights record, and called on all Senators to fully consider his legal and judicial philosophy before the full Senate vote.

John Roberts

ACLU leaders discuss the confirmation hearings >>

ACLU letter to the Senate on the nomination of John Roberts >>

ACLU report on John Roberts’ record >>

The ACLU also demanded the release of all records sought by lawmakers to allow them to fully consider the nominee, and criticized White House efforts to stonewall the documents’ release.

The ACLU issued a report on August 30, 2005 on the civil liberties and civil rights record of Roberts. The report was prepared in accordance with ACLU policy, which requires a summary of the records of each Supreme Court nominee for use by the Senate, the public and the media. Also in August, the ACLU sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee calling for full disclosure on Roberts’ record, saying that the White House should provide “all documents that relate to his work on civil liberties issues,” and that “the president should waive any claims of privilege over these documents.”

The following can be attributed to Anthony D. Romero, ACLU Executive Director:

“Senators are now in the difficult position of judging a nominee without all of the evidence. Not only was Roberts less than fully forthcoming in many of his answers to questions from the senators, but also the administration refused to turn over key documents from his time as a political appointee in the solicitor general’s office. Senators should not have to resort to reading tea leaves to understand the record of a nominee for chief justice.

“Roberts distanced himself from some of the most extreme statements that he made as a political appointee during the Reagan administration and he explained his general respect for precedent, but the hearings ended with almost as many questions as when they started. Senators should use the remaining days before the full Senate vote to ask Roberts and the administration to provide the answers that would assure the country that a Chief Justice Roberts will be a guardian of liberty.”

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The American Civil Liberties Union is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America.