Progressive. Queer. Feminist. Opinionated.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

An apology to Roberts, at least on this point.

Well, I'll be damned. Looks like I'll have to eat some of my words.

I'm going to paste this article because I think it says things better than I could:

Report: Roberts Instrumental In Winning Gay Rights Case
by Doreen Brandt Washington Bureau

Posted: August 4, 2005 12:01 am ET

(Washington) President Bush's nominee for the Supreme Court reportedly was instrumental in winning a landmark 1996 gay civil rights case before the high court.

The Los Angeles Times reports that John G. Roberts Jr. worked behind the scenes for a coalition of gay-rights groups, helping them prepare their arguments to present to the court.

The case was Romer vs. Evans, which sought to have struck down a voter-approved 1992 Colorado initiative allowing employers and landlords to exclude gays from jobs and housing.

The coalition won the case in a 6-3 decision.

At the time gay rights leaders activists described it as the movement's most important legal victory.

The three dissenting justices were Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas - the three jurists to whom Roberts is frequently likened for their conservative ideology

The Times reports that Roberts was in private practice at Hogan & Hartson specializing in appeals court case at the time and took the case as part of the firm's pro bono service.

He neither argued the case before the Supreme Court nor did he write the legal briefs but several lawyers involved in the case told the Times that Roberts he was instrumental in reviewing the filings and helping them prepare the oral arguments.

Walter A. Smith Jr who headed up the bono department at Hogan & Hartson, told the Times that Roberts didn't hesitate when the case was suggested.

There is no record of Roberts working on any LGBT rights cases and he does not mention the 1996 case in his 67-page response to a series of questions put to him by the Senate Judiciary Committee. One of the questions the committee asked what pro bono cases he had worked on.

Smith told the Times that it was probably just an oversight because Roberts was not the chief litigator in the case.

One of the lawyers who did argue the case before the Supreme Court also recalls Roberts contribution.

Jean Dubofsky, the lead attorney on the case and a former member of the Colorado Supreme Court, told the Times Roberts' advice was crucial to the win because he had a good idea on how to make an effective argument to a court that was conservative and had not been receptive to gay rights, she told the Times.

Roberts role in the case has gone unnoticed by a new generation of gay activists who have expressed concern about his appointment

If this is all true, then I apologize for some of my earlier hesitation. This good deed above doesn't nullify his other negative actions, but ... well, it's something. It's a start.


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