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July 19, 2005

Far Worse: John Roberts

Bush has gone for John Roberts, a hard right conservative with a small paper trail but well-known conservative views, and who at age 50 will be on the bench for many decades. 

Start at People For the American Way:

Rancho Viejo, LLC v. Norton,This case involved a real estate development company's contention that the application of the Endangered Species Act to its construction project in California was an unconstitutional exercise of federal authority under the Commerce Clause: Roberts's dissent in Rancho Viejo strongly suggested that he thought it would be unconstitutional to apply the Endangered Species Act in this case.
Alliance for Justice Report at his nomination:

As Special Assistant to Attorney General Smith in the Justice Department, and as counsel in the Reagan White House, Roberts compiled a staunch record of hostility to civil rights...After a 1980 Supreme Court decision, Mobile v. Bolden, dramatically weakaned certain sections of the Voting Rights Act, Roberts was involved in the administration’s effort to prevent Congress from overturning the Supreme Court’s action. The Supreme Court had decided, despite a lack of textual basis for this interpretation of the statute, that plaintiffs claiming certain violations of the Voting Rights Act, such as minority vote dilution, had to prove that the discrimination was intentional rather than just having a discriminatory effect.

In [an] abortion-related case, Roberts co-authored the government’s amicus brief in a private suit brought against Operation Rescue by an abortion clinic it had targeted. The brief argued that Operation Rescue was not engaged in a conspiracy to deprive women of equal protection. Roberts took this position in spite of Operation Rescue’s admission that its goal was to prevent women from obtaining abortions and to shut down the clinic during its protests. Although the government’s brief acknowledged that only women could become pregnant, it argued that conspiring to prevent people from seeking constitutionally-protected abortions did not constitute gender discrimination. It asserted that, at worst, Operation Rescue was discriminating against pregnant people, not women.

And its worth understanding where John Roberts placed his talent when he was in private practice:

In private practice, Roberts has often represented corporations in suits against private individuals or the government. He represented Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc., in its successful petition to the Supreme Court arguing that a worker with carpal tunnel syndrome is not disabled such that she is entitled to accommodation at work under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Roberts also served as the attorney for Fox Television, the network owned by conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch, in its challenge of governmental regulations. In Fox Television Stations, Inc. v. Federal Communications Commission, Fox won its challenge to the federal government’s ownership and cross-ownership rules.

As counsel for The Associated General Contractors of America, Roberts wrote an amicus brief in Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Mineta, arguing in a challenge to an affirmative action program for Department of Transportation contractors that Congress had failed to make sufficiently specific findings to justify the program.

And what about his published writings?:
Roberts took on the Contract Clause, which provides that, “No state shall… pass any… law impairing the obligation of contracts.” Roberts argued that this clause should be interpreted to protect corporations from legislation that might increase their obligations to their workers, such as pension protection, and not, as Justice Brennan had asserted, to protect individuals from decisions by states that nullified rights by reneging on contracts. In a 1993 Duke Law Journal article, Mr. Roberts wrote in support of Justice Scalia’s majority opinion in the critical 1992 Supreme Court case Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, which significantly limited citizens’ ability to bring challenges to government actions harming the environment.

Also see ScotusBlog at this report:

And just one other recent case:

AFL-CIO v. Chao (2005): This decision upheld most of the Labor Department's punitive reporting requirements by labor unions, but could not demand such reporting from non-union organizations where unions merely elect some representatives to their boards. Roberts in dissent by himself wanted to give the labor department full power over any organization where a union had any representation in its leadership.

Posted by Nathan at July 19, 2005 08:17 PM