Jump to content
The Talon House

Roberts Waffles On Issues Involving Gay Rights


Recommended Posts

Roberts Waffles On Issues Involving Gay Rights

by Doreen Brandt 365Gay.com Washington Bureau

Posted: September 14, 2005 9:00 pm ET

(Washington) For a second day John Roberts was grilled by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and for the second day the man President Bush wants for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court danced around issues and gave vague responses to others.

After saying Tuesday that he supported the constitutional guarantee of privacy he refused on Wednesday to say how far that would extend.

The right to privacy has been a key factor in a whole series of LGBT civil rights cases - the most important of which was the 2003 Supreme Court ruling overturning sodomy laws. (story) The ruling was later cited in the Massachusetts high court ruling that struck down the prohibition on same-sex marriage (story) and has been used to fight child custody cases involving gay parents..

Wednesday, the issue of constitutional privacy came up under questioning by Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del).

Biden wanted to know just how far the right to privacy extends in Roberts vision of the law. Did it for insistence extend to the right to die? Roberts refused to answer the question.

“Without any knowledge of your understanding of the law, because you will not share it with us, we are rolling the dice with you, judge,’’ an angry Biden told him.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) asked Roberts to cite any examples of disagreement with the opinions of Justice Clarence Thomas on the subject of privacy. Thomas, in his dissent in Lawrence v Texas - the sodomy case - wrote that there is no general right to privacy.

Again, Roberts declined to answer.

Despite prodding to define privacy Roberts would not indicate if he defined it narrowly or broadly. He then confounded Democrats further by saying that the privacy right he accepts is endorsed by every current Supreme Court justice “to some extent or another.’’

He did however, suggest he differs with Thomas and Justice Antonin Scalia on their narrow view of the Constitution. Both believe the document must be interpreted literally.

Under questioning from Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa) Roberts said that words such as 'liberty' or 'equality' should not be given a "cramped or narrow construction," based solely on their meaning at the time the Constitution was written.

Roberts has indicated he will not answer questions on specific issues which may come before the court so it is not known if issues such as gays in the military - which is scheduled to be heard by the court this session - or gay marriage and family rights which could come up in the future will be asked as the hearings continue. It is clear, though, that Roberts position on privacy is as murky as it was the day he was nominated.

Observers from the Human Rights Campaign and Lambda Legal looked on intently as Roberts coolly avoided being pinned down.

Lambda has not taken a position on Roberts nomination saying it wants to wait until the hearings are over. HRC and three other national LGBT groups - the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Parents & Friends of Lesbians and Gays - are opposed.

Last month in a joint statement the four groups called on the Senate to refuse to confirm Roberts. (story)

Although Lambda has reserved judgment on him it has issued a series of 30 questions it believes Roberts should be asked by the committee. (story)

©365Gay.com 2005


Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...