Supreme Court nominee John Roberts
John Roberts, President Bush’s nominee for the Supreme Court, donated his time to homosexual activists, helping them win a landmark anti-bias ruling from the high court in 1996.
According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, Roberts helped represent “gay rights” activists as part of his law firm’s pro bono work. While the nominee did not actually argue the case before the high court, several lawyers familiar with the case say he was instrumental in reviewing filings and preparing oral arguments.
The Supreme Court ruling was decided on a 6-3 vote, with Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissenting. Bush has repeatedly said he would nominate Supreme Court justices in the mold of Thomas and Scalia. The ruling in Romer v. Evans struck down a voter-approved 1992 Colorado initiative that nullified “gay rights” measures in the state.
The Times points out Roberts has stressed that a client’s views are not necessarily shared by the lawyer who argues on his or her behalf, so the nominee could claim he did not agree with the homosexual activists he helped.
Walter A. Smith Jr., then head of the pro bono department at Hogan & Hartson, told the paper Roberts didn’t hesitate to take the case: “He said, ‘Let’s do it.’ And it’s illustrative of his open-mindedness, his fair-mindedness. He did a brilliant job.”
Roberts did not mention the Romer case in a 67-page response to a Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire released this week.
“John probably didn’t recall [the case] because he didn’t play as large a role in it as he did in others,” Smith told the Times yesterday. “I’m sure John has a record somewhere of every case he ever argued, and Romer he did not argue. So he probably would have remembered it less.”
Jean Dubofsky was the lead lawyer for the homosexual activists and a former Colorado Supreme Court justice.
“Everybody said Roberts was one of the people I should talk to,” Dubofsky is quoted as saying. “He has a better idea on how to make an effective argument to a court that is pretty conservative and hasn’t been very receptive to gay rights.”
She said he gave her advice in two areas that were “absolutely crucial.”
“He said you have to be able to count and know where your votes are coming from. And the other was that you absolutely have to be on top of why and where and how the state court had ruled in this case,” Dubofsky said.
Dubofsky says in practicing for the high-court arguments, Roberts played a Scalia-type justice, peppering her with tough questions.
“John Roberts … was just terrifically helpful in meeting with me and spending some time on the issue,” she told the Times. “He seemed to be very fair-minded and very astute.”
In the Romer dissent, Scalia, joined by Rehnquist and Thomas, said, “Coloradans are entitled to be hostile toward homosexual conduct.” Scalia added that the majority opinion had “no foundation in American constitutional law, and barely pretends to.”
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