Release the Roberts Papers
August 2, 2005
As Bush was making an end run around the Senate with his recess appointment of John Bolton, his ideological bomb throwing candidate to be the top U.S. diplomat at the U.N., Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee were still struggling to get information on Bush's nominee for the Supreme Court, John Roberts.
The Democrats sent a letter on Friday to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales requesting information on sixteen cases Roberts was involved in as Deputy Solicitor General under President Bush the elder. Roberts signed briefs in about 81 cases, 78 of which were argued before the Supreme Court, Democrats point out, and his office was involved in hundreds more cases during his tenure there. In their letter they are requesting relevant documents (which they identify, in order to expedite the process) in just 16 of those cases.
Some of the landmark cases mentioned in the letter, such as Rust v. Sullivan and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, are familiar to anyone who was even vaguely aware of the Supreme Court's work during the last decade. Many concern profound matters of policy on abortion, privacy civil rights, school desegregation, and due process,according to saveourcourts.org.
Board of Education of Oklahoma City v. Dowell (1991)--Roberts filed an amicus brief opposing African American families who claimed that their local schools were becoming re-segregated.
Bray v. Alexandria Women’s Health Clinic (1993)--Roberts filed an amicus brief and participated in oral arguments asking that the Court hold that anti-abortion activists were not violating women's civil rights by obstructing family planning clinics.
Franklin v. Gwinnett County Public Schools (1992)--Roberts' argued on the losing side in this landmark case rejecting limits on relief under Title IX for students who suffer even the most severe gender harassment.
Freeman v. Pitts (1992)--Roberts filed a brief urging the Supreme Court to reverse a court of appeals ruling that required a Georgia school district to make further efforts to fully desegregate its public schools.
Herrera v. Collins (1993)--the Solicitor General’s office filed a brief arguing that a Texas man could not seek relief in federal court based on his claim that new evidence showed he was actually innocent of the crime for which he had been sentenced to death.
Lee v. Weisman (1992)--involved the question of whether a prayer by clergy selected by the public school at a graduation ceremony violates the principle that the government should not favor a particular religion.
Voinovich v. Quilter (1993)--a Voting Rights Act case in which the Solicitor General filed a brief opposing claims by minority voters in Ohio. John Roberts co-authored the Solicitor General’s brief.
Withrow v. Williams (1993)--the Solicitor General’s office urged the Court to severely curtail Miranda rights by ruling that federal courts may not entertain Miranda claims in habeas corpus petitions filed by state prisoners. John Roberts was on the brief and participated in oral argument.
So far the Administration has invoked attorney-client privilege to avoid providing documents of Roberts’s work in the Solicitor General's office. The particular cases here, and their importance to all citizens, show how bogus that claim is. The public deserves to know what Roberts has to say about all of these matters, and how he will treat similar issues that come up when and if he is sitting on the other side of the Supreme Court bench.