Wednesday, July 20, 2005

John G. Roberts and the Federalist Society

Tonight President Bush made official his decision on whom to nominate to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by Sandra Day O'Connor.

He named John Roberts, whose only judicial experience has been two years on the D.C. appeals court, to which he was appointed by President Bush in June 2003.

Not surprisingly (especially those who were hoping for another woman, or perhaps the first ever Hispanic Justice on the court), Roberts was born into wealth, the son of a Bethlehem Steel executive, and has been pretty much an establishment guy all his life. He worked as a law clerk for William Rehnquist (the same William Rehnquist who for the first time in history did something I liked, and said he doesn't plan to retire yet, thereby forcing Bush's hand and making it clear who his number one choice is). Then he became an assistant to William French Smith, Attorney General in the Reagan administration, and continued to serve throughout the Bush I administration in the Solicitor General's office. Clearly his conservative credentials are in order.

That in itself is not enough to disqualify him, but here is what should:

John G. Roberts is a member of the Federalist Society.

Never heard of them? Well, The Society is chaired by Steven Calabresi and David McIntosh, a former congressman who has strong ties to Newt Gingrich, and voted in Congress to prohibit the enforcement of portions of the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act. The organization also has a Board of Visitors (formerly the Board of Trustees) including Robert Bork, Orrin Hatch (in fact his son, Brent, is now the society's treasurer), Edwin Meese III and former Christian Coalition leader Don Hodel. Another member is Gerald Walpin, who has criticized the Supreme Court's 1966 Miranda decision for permitting "lawlessness" and has endorsed Congress' ability to set aside the ruling.

Scared of their board of trustees? Then try who funds them.
You won't be that surprised to find out that they are another very well funded right wing 'think tank,' receiving funding from, among others, the Koch foundation (Fred Koch was one of the founders of the John Birch Society) and the Scaife foundation (which funded the 'American Spectator's 'Arkansas project' to 'get' Bill Clinton).

On March 28, 2001, the Federalist Society's environmental law practice and their Chicago chapter sponsored a conference in Chicago, entitled 'Rolling Back the New Deal.'

Civil Rights? Well, Charles J. Cooper, who chairs the organization's practice group on civil rights, is a well-known opponent of traditional anti-discrimination efforts. In fact, Cooper co-wrote an opinion while serving in the Reagan Justice Department that federal law did not prevent employers from refusing to hire people with AIDS if those employers cited a "fear of contagion, whether reasonable or not." and Federalist Society member Robert George and attorney Bill Saunders attacked the U.S. Supreme Court's 1996 Romer v. Evans decision on anti-gay discrimination for curbing the ability of a state "to employ its 'police power' to protect public morals" Not surprisingly, the Society has been unalterably hostile to affirmative action and other programs designed to promote diversity.

Judicial temperment? Well, the American Bar Association (ABA), a nonpartisan organization which has always vetted judges in the past, was attacked by the Federalist Society, which launched its 'ABA project in 1996. This recently reached fruition with President' Bush's announcement that he would no longer use ABA ratings in naming judges. In fact, the recommendation to eliminate the ABA role came directly from the White House counsel's office, which is heavily staffed by Federalist Society members.

Tonight, George W. Bush said the position called for "a person who will faithfully apply the Constitution...I have found such a person in Judge John Roberts."
Unfortunately, we cannot expect this from someone in the Federalist Society. Watching what they say and do, it is clear that this is code for someone who supports the rights of states to legislate institutional racism, unequal treatment for women, no right to privacy in your personal life and other anachronisms.

And John Roberts' membership in the Federalist Society is NOT just something he can pass off as 'someone who he was working for.' HE and no one else, chose to join it. And he could quit anytime he found their views on gay rights, affirmative action or other topics unacceptable and did not wish to be associated with them, so we can only assume that his beliefs are in line with his organzation.


realdebate said...

Um, John Roberts is not, and has never been a member of the Federalist Society.

realdebate said...