Senate Should Carefully Scrutinize Record of Supreme Court Nominee John Roberts

On July 20th, The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) expressed serious concern over President Bush's nomination of Washington, D.C. Circuit Court Judge John Roberts to replace U. S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. The NAACP urges the Senate to insist that Roberts is forthcoming during his confirmation hearings on questions about states' rights, individual rights, affirmative action, women's rights and workers' rights.

"We call on the members of the Senate to get clear answers on where Judge Roberts stands on issues such as equal opportunity programs (including Affirmative Action), criminal justice and juvenile justice issues, continuing inequities in public education, housing discrimination, freedom of speech, voting rights and the death penalty, especially for the mentally retarded or juvenile offenders," said Hilary Shelton, Director of the NAACP Washington Bureau. Moreover, Shelton said the Senate should thoroughly review all memos that were drafted by Roberts when he worked in the Reagan and Bush Sr. White House and the U.S. Justice Department.

In nominating Roberts, President Bush moves away from diversity on the high Court. With the retirement of Justice O'Connor, there will be only one woman justice. "We had hoped President Bush would nominate a consensus nominee similar to Justice O'Connor," said Shelton. "We don't know where Roberts stands on crucial legal and constitutional issues."

The NAACP is asking its members to write their senators to make sure that these very hard questions are asked of someone who has a questionable history on issues of importance to the NAACP, such as individual rights, states' rights, environmental protection and health care options for women.

As a Deputy Solicitor General during the first Bush administration, Roberts argued before the Supreme Court that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided and should be overturned in a case to prohibit federally funded family planning clinics from discussing abortion with patients. He also urged the Supreme Court to rule that public schools can officially sponsor prayer at graduation programs. The Court rejected that argument, upholding the principle of church-state separation.

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