It's another busy Monday. The good news is that the home computer is finally home from the shop; the bad news (if it can really be considered "bad") is that I've got so many various things to do this week that I doubt I'll have much time to post. It's really during the school year, when I am in front of the computer so often, that I am able to post with regularity.
The enthusiasm of social conservatives for the nomination of John Roberts continues to diminish since the revelation about his pro-bono work for gay-rights partisans in the Romer v. Evans case. The LA Times this morning produced this report on yesterday's Justice Sunday, a nationwide satellite rally of evangelicals in support of "saving the court". It seems safe to say that the excitement about Roberts among the religious right has cooled to lukewarm:
Organizer Tony Perkins, president of the conservative advocacy group Family Research Council, told reporters Friday that the event was "not a Roberts rally." In fact, few of the speakers mentioned Roberts by name, and those who did were restrained in their remarks. James Dobson, founder of another advocacy group, Focus on the Family, said, "For now at least, he looks good."
"For now, at least, he looks good" is hardly an overwhelming endorsement. On Friday, Concerned Women for America put out a press release entitled "Roberts' Role in the Romer Case Raises Questions". Referring to Romer, CWA writes:
CWA finds the news troubling...
Judge Roberts allegedly donated about five hours to the case, playing the part of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia in a moot court and also providing advice to attorneys from Lambda Legal Defense Foundation, which brought the case.
It is standard practice for attorneys at private firms to donate pro bono hours, sometimes even for clients with whom they have philosophical differences. But they don’t have to take every case offered them. Columnists Ann Coulter and Don Feder have since written articles warning that little is known about Judge Roberts, much as little was known about previous appointee David Souter, who was touted as a conservative but who quickly became part of the court’s most liberal wing.
In another development, The Washington Times reported on August 11 that Roberts, in a 1982 memo to Attorney General William French Smith, referred to Free Congress Foundation founder Paul Weyrich as “of course, no friend of ours.”
Weyrich is a longtime friend of Concerned Women for America and one of America’s greatest conservative champions. The memo was written in response to an inquiry from the left-leaning American Bar Association to a book authored by Weyrich, “A Blueprint for Judicial Reform.” The memo, in which Roberts misspelled Weyrich as “Weyerich,” was one of several that Roberts wrote to advise Smith on how to handle conservatives who had been instrumental in securing President Reagan’s election, according to the Times.
Finally, Human Events, the conservative newsweekly, ran a story today that Roberts spent about 12 hours as a private attorney representing Playboy Entertainment Group in its case against a federal law that requires scrambling cable porn channels or restricting the hours so that children are not inadvertently exposed.
“Roberts played the role of a Supreme Court justice in a moot court setting, preparing Playboy’s lead counsel, Robert Corn-Revere, who worked in Hogan & Hartson’s communications department, for his oral argument before the Supreme Court,” Human Events reporter Robert Bluey reports. Unlike the Romer case, Roberts was paid for the work.
Bold emphases are mine.
I've written before that as a consistent-life progressive, I find Roberts' wife's background to be comforting. And now, reading that he has worked for Playboy and on behalf of the plaintiffs in Romer, I'm further comforted. No, I don't think he'll turn out to be much of a liberal on the court. But to the dismay of all of us on both sides who want to see a right-wing or left-wing ideologue on the court, John Roberts may turn out to be a "lawyer's lawyer", a man who will be far more interested in law and precedent than in pushing an agenda. Given the political views of the man who nominated him, John Roberts seems to be the best that we on the left could hope for.
May he be speedily confirmed, and may the fears of social conservatives be justified.