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Conservatives 'Concerned' Over Judge Roberts Gay P


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Conservatives 'Concerned' Over Judge Roberts Gay Past

by Doreen Brandt 365Gay.com Washington Bureau

Posted: August 5, 2005 3:00 pm ET

(Washington) Christian conservative groups that only days go were criticizing Democrats and demanding a speedy confirmation of judge John G. Roberts Jr. to the US Supreme Court now are calling for tough questioning in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The speedy change in their approach follows this week's report that Roberts had offered free legal advice to an LGBT group that ultimately won a landmark 1996 gay civil rights case at the Supreme Court. (story)

In the hours before President Bush publicly announced Roberts' nomination the President called leading fundamentalist Christians assuring them of Roberts conservative background. Indeed he was once a member of a right wing legal group in Washington - an organization that Roberts says he does not remember ever belonging to.

Now, some conservative Christian leaders say they, and the President, may have been mislead by "by a liberal in conservative robes".

Mathew Staver, president of Liberty Counsel, a conservative legal group fighting LGBT rights in several states, said Roberts' involvement in the gay case is "something to certainly be concerned about."

Staver wants Republicans to ask Roberts direct questions about his positions on gay marriage, the Supreme Court ruling striking down sodomy laws, LGBT civil rights issues, and abortion.

"We need more information to find out the facts behind what Judge Roberts did when he was working on the case," Staver told the Baptist Press. "But if in fact the story is true, it is clearly concerning because, according to the story, Judge Roberts did not hesitate to get involved to work on this case pro bono.

"... If in fact he did this, this would be contrary to everything I've read about him thus far. This was a state constitutional amendment passed by the people. For the court to strike that down, I felt, was judicial activism."

Focus on the Family also is raising alarm bells. FOC's James Dobson was one of the conservative leaders who received a Bush assurance that Roberts would be a "strict constitutionalist" and "rule on the law not make it".

FOC now is also calling for questions to be put to Roberts about his role in the gay rights case.

"While this is certainly not welcome news to those of us who advocate for traditional values, it is by no means a given that John Roberts' personal views are reflected in his involvement in this case," FOC said in a statement.

The involvement of Roberts in the gay rights case has also been a hot topic on conservative talk shows.

Fox's Sean Hannity now says he has "some" doubts about Roberts.

"It's the first sign I've seen where his conservative judicial philosophy ... may not be as solid as what I thought," Hannity said on his radio program.

But, some of Roberts' conservative supporters say the debate is just an effort to set Republicans against each other.

It "is a red herring meant to divide the right," Sean Rushton, executive director of the Committee for Justice told the Chicago Tribune. The CFJ helps coordinate strategy on judicial nominations for conservative groups.

As some conservatives raise concerns about Roberts' positions on what they perceive as "liberal issues" LGBT rights groups are still not ready to endorse him pointing out lawyers often take cases in which they do not believe.

Accused murderers have been represented by lawyers pro bono even when they know the accused committed the crime.

"All this shows is that Roberts is a good lawyer," National Gay and Lesbian Task Force executive director Matt Foreman told 365Gay.com earlier this week. (story) "It has nothing to do with his ideology."

"It's very interesting and something that we'll be throwing into the mix and it's not something we were aware of until now," said Michael Adams, director of education at Lambda Legal said.

"It poses as many questions as answers," Adams told 365Gay.com

"Judge Roberts' involvement in the case is noteworthy, but his participation adds little to our understanding of how he would vote on the court," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.

The stakes are too high for guessing games over Judge Roberts' stance.

"The Supreme Court makes critical decisions and it is the nominee's job to guarantee that he will protect individual rights and freedoms on the nation's highest court," Solmonese said. Judge Roberts has consistently argued that as an attorney, he has zealously represented the interests of his client, no matter his personal views. Judge Roberts should make clear where he personally stands on important constitutional principles.

©365Gay.com 2005


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