Thursday, September 15, 2005

Today's Action Alert

This comes from the National Women's Law Center, and you can find out what to do about John Roberts by clicking on their action page.

The current progressive/liberal near-consensus on Roberts seems to be that he is as good a candidate as we can expect from Attila the Hun, and that with the exception of abortion (which he will help to outlaw) he is actually quite a charming man. Naturally only some of us can view the question in this "cool and detached" way, but then some of us are lumbered with uteri and so on. Sigh. I haven't slept enough.

This is a summary of Roberts's views on those of use saddled with wombs:

Title IX -- John Roberts has repeatedly argued for a narrow interpretation of Title IX, but his testimony today attempted to hide the ball on his real positions. For example, in a 1982 Supreme Court case (Franklin v. Gwinnett County), he filed a brief arguing that no victim of sexual harassment should be allowed to sue for damages under Title IX. His response to the committee did not acknowledge that his interpretation of the law would have left students without any remedy for sex discrimination. Roberts also denied any responsibility for his "strong agreement" with recommendations to restrict the coverage of Title IX. According to Roberts, he was merely parroting administration positions on this issue – an assertion at odds with the very language of his recommendations.

Gender Discrimination -- John Roberts wrote in a 1980s memo of a "perceived problem" of gender discrimination. When asked about this memo, he responded that gender discrimination is "a particular concern of mine and always has been." But the question is not whether he cares about gender equity. It is whether he will apply the laws of this country to provide effective protection against discrimination. His past record and his testimony provide no reassurance.

Equal Protection -- In another memo, John Roberts wrote that sex discrimination is not subject to "heightened scrutiny" under the Constitution. He told members of the Judiciary Committee that he actually meant "strict scrutiny," a standard that applies to racial discrimination – not gender. It's hard to believe a lawyer of Roberts's caliber would misuse legal terms in this way. And this is no mere semantic dispute -- levels of scrutiny affect how the Supreme Court reviews discriminatory policies and often make the difference between condoning or invalidating discrimination.

Roe v. Wade -- As Deputy Solicitor General, John Roberts asked the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. During the hearings, he has refused to give senators straightforward answers about his views on whether the Constitution protects a woman's right to choose and whether he would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. For example, when he was asked whether the right to choose embodied in Roe v. Wade is sufficiently embedded in our national culture that it should not be eliminated, he flatly declined to answer. When he was asked for his comments on Justice Ginsburg's confirmation testimony that a prohibition on abortion is unconstitutional, he would not respond. And when asked whether the right to privacy applies to the beginning of life and the end of life, John Roberts again refused to answer.