19 July 2005

George W. Goes Against The Conventional Wisdom

ABC News and FoxNews Channel are both reporting that the President will nominate Judge John Roberts to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. This goes against the conventional wisdom because most were expecting a Hispanic or a woman. Here are his qualifications:

Nominated to: Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit

Status of nomination: Confirmed 5/8/2003 May 8, 2003: The Committee voted out Roberts 16-3.

  • Born 1955, Buffalo, NY
  • B.A., 1976, summa cum laude & J.D., 1979, magna cum laude, Harvard University
  • 1979-80, Clerk for Judge Friendly, Second Circuit
  • 1980-81, Clerk, Associate Justice Rehnquist, Supreme Court
  • U.S. Department of Justice
    • 1981-81, Special Assistant to U.S. Attorney General William French Smith
    • 1989-93, Principal Deputy Solicitor General
  • 1982-86, White House Counsel's Office, Associate Counsel to the President
  • Hogan & Hartson, LLP, Washington, DC
    • 1986-89, Associate
    • 1993-present, Partner
General Background. Mr. Roberts, a partner at the D.C. law firm Hogan & Hartson, has long-standing and deep connections to the Republican Party. He is a member of the Republican National Lawyers Association and worked as a political appointee in both the Reagan and Bush I administrations. President George H.W. Bush nominated Mr. Roberts to the D.C. Circuit, but he was considered by some on the Senate Judiciary Committee to be too extreme in his views, and his nomination lapsed. He was nominated by President George W. Bush to the same seat in May 2001.
Reproductive Rights. s a Deputy Solicitor General, Mr. Roberts co-wrote a Supreme Court brief in Rust v. Sullivan, for the first Bush administration, which argued that the government could prohibit doctors in federally-funded family planning programs from discussing abortions with their patients. The brief not only argued that the regulations were constitutional, notwithstanding the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade, but it also made the broader argument that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided - an argument unnecessary to defend the regulation. The Supreme Court sided with the government on the narrower grounds that the regulation was constitutional.
Environmental Issues. As a student, Mr. Roberts wrote two law review articles arguing for an expansive reading of the Contracts and Takings clauses of the Constitution, taking positions that would restrict Congress' ability to protect the environment. As a member of the Solicitor General's office, Mr. Roberts was the lead counsel for the United States in the Supreme Court case Lujan v. National Wildlife Federation, in which the government argued that private citizens could not sue the federal government for violations of environmental regulations.

As a lawyer in private practice, Mr. Roberts has also represented large corporate interests opposing environmental controls. He submitted an amicus brief on behalf of the National Mining Association in the recent case Bragg v. West Virginia Coal Association. In this case, a three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit reversed a district court ruling that had stopped the practice of "mountaintop removal" in the state of West Virginia. Citizens of West Virginia who were adversely affected by the practice had sued the state, claiming damage to both their homes and the surrounding area generally. Three Republican appointees - Judges Niemeyer, Luttig, and Williams - held that West Virginia's issuance of permits to mining companies to extract coal by blasting the tops off of mountains and depositing the debris in nearby valleys and streams did not violate the 1977 Federal Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act. This decision was greeted with great dismay by environmental groups. In another case, Roberts represented one of several intervenors in a case challenging the EPA’s promulgation of rules to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions.
Civil Rights. After a Supreme Court decision effectively nullified certain sections of the Voting Rights Act, Roberts was involved in the Reagan administration's effort to prevent Congress from overturning the Supreme Court's action. The Supreme Court had recently decided that certain sections of the Voting Rights Act could only be violated by intentional discrimination and not by laws that had a discriminatory effect, despite a lack of textual basis for this interpretation in the statute. Roberts was part of the effort to legitimize that decision and to stop Congress from overturning it.
Religion in Schools. While working with the Solicitor General's office, Mr. Roberts co-wrote an amicus brief on behalf of the Bush administration, in which he argued that public high schools can include religious ceremonies in their graduation programs, a view the Supreme Court rejected.
Pro Bono. Mr. Roberts has engaged in significant pro bono work while at Hogan and Hartson, including representation of indigent clients and criminal defendants.
Other Information. Mr. Roberts is a member of two prominent, right-wing legal groups that promote a pro-corporate, anti-regulatory agenda: the Federalist Society and the National Legal Center For The Public Interest, serving on the latter group's Legal Advisory Council.
source The President picked someone that I believe that I could support Blogger's 1st Amendment Pledge If the FEC makes rules that limit my First Amendment right to express my opinion on core political issues, I will not obey those rules.

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