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Ganked from Moveon.org

Last week, press aides at the White House made a furious round of phone calls: a number of major newspapers had printed that John Roberts was a member of the secretive far-right Federalist Society. Roberts denied "recalling" that he was a member, and so the White House demanded a correction. Retractions were printed. But just this morning The Washington Post released an internal directory proving Roberts served on the steering committee of the Washington Federalist Society chapter.1

This is not an isolated episode. The White House is banking on a strategy of hiding Roberts' right-wing views and focusing on his non-confrontational personality.2 And so far, most newspapers and networks have bought in, spending a lot more time speculating about how easily Roberts will be confirmed than doing the investigative reporting that the country deserves.3 To get more of the real journalism this issue demands we're going to have to ask for it.

Please take a minute to call or write the outlets where you have gotten your coverage of the Roberts nomination, and ask them to focus on the facts of Roberts' record—not on the administration's spin. You can find contact information for your news outlets here:


Roberts' record as a right-wing partisan and corporate advocate poses many concerns about how his confirmation would threaten core rights. Here are some direct questions that we could use some better reporting on:

1) Corporate Power
How would his years advocating, lobbying and then ruling in favor of corporate power affect his defense of the public interest?

Here's what we know:

As a corporate lawyer Roberts fought to gut the Americans with Disabilities Act, denying basic accommodation for workers injured over time as part of their job.4
He helped a major car manufacturer avoid a recall when their seatbelts were found to violate federal safety standards.5
Argued for the National Mining Association to overturn a ruling that restricted mountain top removal practices devastating to Appalachian communities.6
In his brief tenure as a judge, he argued for a very limited view of congressional authority to regulate corporate excess that could threaten broad swaths of environmental protections, workers rights, and anti-discrimination laws.7

2) Privacy
How would Roberts affect privacy rights currently protected by the constitution?

Here's what we know:

Roberts argued to the Supreme Court that Roe v Wade should be "overruled".8
He won a case blocking doctors in many cases from even discussing reproductive options with their patients.9
He has ruled in favor of sweeping powers for the commander-in-chief in this state of perpetual war—with frightening implications for our civil liberties.10
3) Partisanship
How would Robert's partisan allegiance affect his judgment? (For example in cases like Bush v. Gore)

Here's what we know:

He advised Jeb Bush during the Florida recount debacle.11
As a lawyer for the Reagan and Bush Sr. White House, he advocated for right wing ideology over free speech,12 religious liberty13 and voting rights for minorities.14
Roberts has been a life long partisan Republican, a claim the New York Times calls "indisputable,"15 and has donated thousands of dollars to exclusively Republican candidates.16

Roberts' stealth candidacy for the Supreme Court is particularly dangerous because his personal qualities can be used to conceal a very hard line judicial philosophy. Here's how commentator E.J. Dionne put it:

"Judge John G Roberts Jr.. could turn out to be Antonin Scalia with a Washington Establishment smile... And he is David Souter turned on his head—a stealth candidate whose winning personality disguises intense conservatism, not moderation. Roberts could move the court well to the right yet grin his way through the confirmation process....All of which means that the next two weeks will be crucial in determining how the Roberts confirmation battle goes." 17

It's also important to remember that facts of Roberts' record that are already clear were more than sufficient to earn him immediate endorsements on the far-right—even from many of the same people who said Alberto Gonzales was far too liberal:

The violent anti-choice group Operation Rescue said, "We pray that Judge Roberts will be swiftly confirmed."18
James Dobson of Focus on the Family called Roberts "unquestionably qualified"19

Pat Robertson said Roberts was "at the top" of his own list of candidates for the court vacancy.20

Tony Perkins of the ultra-conservative Family Research Council said "The President ... promised to nominate someone along the lines of a Scalia or a Thomas and that is exactly what he has done."21

The more facts that come out about Roberts' record, the clearer the danger he poses to our rights and freedoms. It's vital that the news media get back to the hard work of collecting and reporting on the facts of his record. We are facing the prospect of 30 or 40 years of Roberts on the Supreme Court, and we must apply the highest standard of scrutiny.

Together, we can help shift the coverage from the bottom up by contacting our news sources and simply asking them to focus on Roberts' record.

You'll find everything you need to contact local media below. It just takes a minute, but it could make a big difference. Please reach out today:


Thanks for everything you do,

- Ben, Micayla, Justin, Matt and the MoveOn.org Political Action Team
Monday, July 25, 2005


1 The Washington Post, "Roberts Listed in Federalist Society '97-98 Directory," July 25th 2005http://www.moveon.org/r?r=812

2 The White House has already said it intends to deny Senate requests for information about Roberts work for the Reagan and Bush administration that would clarify his role in undermining the Voting Rights Act, among other key issues. See:
The Associated Press, "White House Won't Show All Roberts Papers," July 24th 2005

3 The day after Roberts was nominated the President's spin appeared as news headlines across the country, like "Roberts is Well Liked"[3a] "Not a Battle"[3b] "Nominee Known for his Modesty."[3c] That day over 40 separate articles mentioned his son's televised antics during the nomination, while less than 10 cited what was probably the most significant opinion he wrote as a judge—one that seriously threatens vast swaths of environmental protections, workers rights, and civil rights.[3d]

[3a] Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, "Roberts is well liked, but his judicial record isn't clear," July 20th, 2005

[3b] The Los Angeles Times, "A Fight, Maybe, but Not a Battle; Roberts should appeal to staunch conservatives yet be insulated from fierce opposition," July 20th 2005

[3c] Ventura County Star, "Highly Regarded Nominee Known for his Modesty," July 20th 2004

[3d] Lexis-Nexis search for articles posted on July 20th, 2005 with the terms "John Roberts and Viejo" and "John Roberts and Jack".

4 The Associated Press, "Atty. Roberts Often Worked for Industry," July 21st 2005

5 The Los Angeles Times, "A Resume Strong on Business," July 22nd 2005

6 The New York Times, "As a Lawyer, Court Nominee Was Considered a Skillful Advocate for Corporate Clients," July 21st 2005

7 New Orleans Times Picayune, "Hapless toad' case fuels fears of Roberts' foes," July 22nd 2005

8 The Associated Press, "Roberts, on the issues," July 24th 2005
Roberts actual argument can be found in: "Brief for the Respondent at 13, Rust v. Sullivan, 500 U.S. 173 (1991)

9 The New York Times, "In Pursuit of Conservative Stamp, President Nominates Roberts," July 20th, 2005

10 Data from Federal Election Commission

11 The Miami Herald, "Roberts Gave GOP Advice in 2000 Recount," July 21st 2005

12 Roberts, serving as Deputy Solicitor General under President Bush Sr. argued to the Supreme Court for the unconstitutional criminalization of flag burning as political speech. See:
The Los Angeles Times, "Bush Leans Right in Court Pick," July 20th 2005.

13 Also as deputy solicitor general in the first Bush White House, Roberts drafted a key legal brief urging the Supreme Court to scrap decades of settled church-state law and uphold school-sponsored prayer at public school graduation ceremonies and other forms of government-endorsed religion. See: Americans United for Separation of Church and State, "Senate Should Reject Confirmation Of John G. Roberts To Supreme Court,"

14 The Boston Globe, "Civil Rights Groups Cite Concerns Over Roberts," July 22nd 2005

15 The Capital Times, "Bush Picks and Activist," July 20th 2005

16 The Nation, "The Stakes in Roberts' Nomination," July 20th 2005

17 The Washington Post, "Beware the Charm of Judges", July 21st 2005

18 The Los Angeles Times, "Supreme Court nominee's wife an anti-abortion voice," July 23rd 2005

19 Newsmax.com "Dobson: 'Roberts Unquestionably Qualified," July 20th 2005

20 The Free Lance-Star, "Virginians rate Roberts' record," July 21st 2005http://www.fredericksburg.com/News/FLS/2005/072005/07212005/116430

21 The New York Times, "The Strategy for a Successful Nomination: Disarm Opposition," July 20th 2005



( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 26th, 2005 06:46 pm (UTC)
dude, whatever--i'm a federalist at berkeley. while i recognize that being a federalist at berkeley is different than at harvard or yale, still. if he's going to be a judicial activist, then it's not ok, but if he's just going to be conservative--in the strictest sense of the word "conserve"--we'll be alright.

personally, i'm waiting for him to come out on his stance on abortion. i'm not feeling his wife, that's for sure.
Jul. 26th, 2005 06:50 pm (UTC)
i don't think we'll hear much about the a-bomb. given the guy's track record though, i can't see him being anything other than a judicial activist - in the most liberal sense of the phrase, with the least liberal outlooks of anyone on the bench currently.

i don't always agree with moveon.org's op-eds or "research", but as i have been following this, they hit the spin dead center. this is about a youngster getting a hold and helping move things along in the direction the current executive powerholders want it to go.
Jul. 26th, 2005 06:58 pm (UTC)
Re: heh
um, i think scalia takes the cake in being a scary rightist judicial activist. i would be surprised if roberts could measure up.

i'm not surprised at all that he's so young--why wouldn't bush want to put someone on the court who would be there for 30-40 years? i mean, obvi he's going to be not fantasic, as he's a BUSH appointee, but still, i'm surprised that everyone's going off on it.

also--rant time--i don't understand this whole rigamorale about the "super secret" federalist society. at boalt, it was just a bunch of people who were sick of being shouted down everything they had an idea that wasn't part of the liberal machine. [and if you think that there isn't a liberal machine, you're very very wrong] we didn't even have a secret handshake. we hosted events on topics like affirmative action--and actually opponents to speak, unlike some of the liberal groups on campus. the fed was a place where i personally felt comfortable speaking my views, as i knew that even if they weren't agreed with, my comrades would be polite enough to let me finish and not interrupt me. in sum: i have happy fuzzy feelings about the fed at boalt. when i get to HLS, i'll tell you whether or not i have happy fuzzies about the fed there. i'm less optimistic, but trying to keep an open mind.
Jul. 26th, 2005 07:12 pm (UTC)
well, as i said, i didn't write the peice, i ganked it
it is some bullshit that he is denying being able to recall that he was involved with the group, when clearly that is not the case. also, there is a sence of secrecy (not super secrecy) - but no more so than most exclusive "clubs" or "social groups". i'm not saying federalists are the new hitler youth, but they certainly represent an ideology i am not comfortable with, whose presence has been cited in bush's previous cabinet and staffing lines.

scalia is defintiely the head rightie at the moment, but he is a different generation. the neocons want someone with their outlooks in mind - older conservatives, though they still hold the party line on many issues, have some outlooks and ethics that don't mesh well with the current regime's agendas. this guy's light record on the bench in ratio to his total years in the law works for bush brilliantly, but, imo makes him a weak candidate when you look at other possibilities out there.

i never for one minute suggested there wasn't a liberal machine. i hate bipartisan politics, and i hate the power struggle it has created in this "democracy". I agree wholeheartedly that there are plenty of liberal groups out there that are way too inflammatory or impolite to carry the agenda they are voicing appropriately. That being said, if it were not for the habblerousers, we'd still be paying taxes on our tea to the crown.

what i think you are going to experiece in the chapter where you are heading is a much stronger sense of xenophobia, and old world/rich blood nepotism. i may be wrong, but the two other people i know who have had experience with the harvard/yale federalists did not paint them in a particularly flattering light (and one of them is probably my staunchest conservative friend, with whom i argue regularly via email).

i hpe for your sake that i am wrong =)
Jul. 26th, 2005 08:08 pm (UTC)
i hate it when these posts get so long i have to number
P1. federalists also make up most of the united states attorneys and AUSAs, who are the cowboys of our generation, and thus i'm v. comfortable with their ideology as long as it stays reasonable. just bc you're appointed to office and you're a federalist doesn't mean you're a bush crony--not that you said that, just that i'm clarifying my own position on federalist bush appointees.

P2. with you on all that.

P3. didn't say you did. i am all for rabblerousing. and also for tea.

P4. well, as for old blood and xenophobia, i am lucky enough to look like the poster child for hitler's youth, and daddy buys me brooks brothers clothing, so at least i look the part and as such won't be the object of xenophobia. having said that, i don't take stock in xenophobic bullshit, no matter from which race it originates, so we'll see how bad the arguments get. i can't wait to call someone else a privileged youth. :o)

also: you'll have to come up and partay! g has already confirmed that he would, as "cambridge is much closer than berkeley." well said.
Jul. 26th, 2005 08:25 pm (UTC)
as much as I appreciate moveon.org - I have never found anything "secretive" about the federalist society. I always cringe a little bit when groups cash in some credibility for the sake of a good tagline.

I'm also all for limited government - just limited in the right ways... as opposed to "limited in the sense that we don't tax rich people, but not limited in that we use governmental authority to restrict personal freedom"
Jul. 26th, 2005 08:31 pm (UTC)
as i said above - no more secretive than any other club taht doesn't want to share it's roster. in that, i think it is a bit of underhanded sensationalism on mo's part, but i bet they would justfy it as fighting spin with spin (another thing i ahve problems with).

you could not have put it much better re: governmental limitations. the point of this whole propoganda post though is to underline the fact that this guy definitely does not stand for that philosophy.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )


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