On august 31st, The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) announced its opposition to the nomination of Judge John Roberts to a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Bruce S. Gordon, President & CEO, NAACP, said that after a thorough review of the records made available on Roberts, "the NAACP believes Roberts would work to undo the hard earned progress in the area of equal opportunity in the workplace and the marketplace."
Speaking at a press conference in the U.S. Capitol, Gordon said: "I am here today representing our 2200 membership units operating in every state in the nation and I'm speaking on behalf of the thousands of card carrying members in opposition to the nomination of Roberts to the Supreme Court."
Gordon was joined at the press conference by representatives of four other civil rights groups that oppose Roberts; Marcia Greenberger, Co-President, National Women's Law Center; Theodore M. Shaw, Director-Counsel and President, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF); Ann Marie Tallman, President, Mexican American Legal Defense Fund (MALDEF) and Debra Ness, President, National Partnership for Women & Families.
"We have concluded that nominee Roberts' position on civil rights, voting rights and equal employment are opposite those of the NAACP," said Gordon. "While it comes as no surprise that the nominee's views are different than ours, it is the seemingly extreme nature of those views, the degree of difference, that make his candidacy unacceptable. Roberts has demonstrated a commitment to reversing the historic civil rights gains of the past 40 years."
Roberts criticized the U.S. Civil Rights Commission statement on affirmative action for giving "no recognition of the obvious reason for failure: the program required the recruiting of inadequately prepared candidates."
Gordon, who retired in 2003 as President, Retail Markets Group for Verizon, said: "As a person whose career in corporate America began during the early days of affirmative action, I take obvious exception to that statement. Neither I nor countless others like me considered ourselves as `inadequately prepared.' Affirmative action was not the reason for my success, it was the reason I got the chance to succeed."
Roberts argued against affirmative action while in the Office of the Solicitor General and in private practice. In two cases, Adarand Constructors v. Minetta, he argued that equal opportunity programs were not supported by evidence of past discrimination. In Metro Broadcasting v. FCC, he argued that the FCC's policies promoting minority ownership of radio and television stations denied equal protection.
Gordon said civil rights activists "put their lives at risk to deliver the right to vote to all Americans and the result was the Voting Rights Act of 1965." After a Supreme Court decision in The City of Mobile v. Bolden potentially weakened the Act, Congress voted to extend it. Gordon said: "Judge Roberts opposed the congressional action, and with the Voting Rights Act up for reauthorization in 2007, "there is little reason to believe that as a Supreme Court Justice he would defend the right of all people to vote if the Supreme Court is called upon to weigh in."
During five years with the Reagan Administration," Gordon said Roberts argued in support of misguided and harmful positions, often placing himself to the political right of staunch conservatives such as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights William Bradford Reynolds, Assistant Attorney General Ted Olson, Solicitor General Rex Lee and even one-time Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork."
Gordon said the Senate "must question the nominee and demand direct and complete responses. Today's announcement is an attempt to assure a confirmation process that serves the best interest of all Americans."
The NAACP has recommended that the White House confer with organizations and individuals that represent a broader and more diverse vision of the American People and nominate someone who has the judicial temperament and established commitment to protect the rights of all Americans regardless of race, gender, national origin, religion or sexual orientation.
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