On July 19, 2005 John Roberts was nominated to the US Supreme Court. A Senate Judiciary Committee hearing is pending.

On May 8, 2003 the Senate confirmed the nomination of John Roberts to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals without a roll call vote. Robert's nomination was the latest in series intended to pack the court with judges sympathetic to a ideological agenda that includes overturning Roe v. Wade, without a thorough airing of their views. Despite the controversial nature of his nomination, on January 29, 2003 the Senate Judiciary Committee held a joint hearing for Roberts with two other controversial judicial nominees, and senators were unable to question him fully for the record. The nomination was approved in committee on February 27, 2003. However, it was sent back to the committee for a more complete hearing, which was held on April 30, 2003. The nomination was then approved by the committee 16-3 on May 8, 2003 and sent to the Senate for consideration. NCJW opposed this nomination.

As Principal Deputy Solicitor General from 1989-1993, Roberts not only failed to defend fundamental constitutional rights, including reproductive rights, but actively participated in efforts to curtail those rights. He argued that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided and that religious activities are appropriate in public school graduation programs.

Who is John Roberts?

  • John Roberts was born in Buffalo, NY in 1955. He obtained a BA summa cum laude from Harvard University in 1976 and a JD magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1979.
  • In 1979-1980, he clerked for Judge Henry J. Friendly of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, and in 1980-1981, he clerked for then-Associate Supreme Court Justice William H. Rehnquist
  • In 1981, he joined the US Department of Justice as special assistant to Attorney General William French Smith, and in 1982 he became associate counsel to the president in the Office of White House Counsel.
  • From 1986 to 1989, Roberts was an associate with the law firm of Hogan & Hartson. In 1989, he returned to the Justice Department as Principal Deputy Solicitor General, and in 1993 he rejoined Hogan & Hartson as a partner, where he still works.
      Why does NCJW oppose John Roberts' nomination?

  • While serving as Deputy Solicitor General in the Bush Administration, Roberts argued for the gag rule in Rust v. Sullivan (1991), by which the federal government barred doctors working in family planning programs receiving federal funds from even discussing abortion options with patients. The brief also argued that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided – a question not even posed in the case. The Supreme Court upheld the gag rule on the narrower ground that the rule itself was not unconstitutional.
  • As Deputy Solicitor General, Roberts also argued in an amicus curiae brief in Bray v. Alexandria Women's Health Clinic (1993) that protesters from Operation Rescue and six other individuals who blocked access to reproductive health care clinics did not discriminate against women, even though only women could exercise the right to seek an abortion. The year after the Supreme Court endorsed this narrow interpretation, Congress enacted the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE) to protect women and health care providers from violence, clinic blockades, and harassment.
  • Roberts also co-authored an amicus brief for the administration in Lee v. Weisman (1992) in support of letting public high schools include religious activities in their graduation programs. In that case, the court ruled against the government.

Who else opposes John Roberts?

Alliance for Justice
Americans for Democratic Action
Feminist Majority
Leadership Conference on Civil Rights
NARAL Pro-Choice America
National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association
National Organization for Women
NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund
(list in progress)

Additional Information:

July 20, 2005
NCJW Opposes Nomination of John Roberts to Supreme Court

February 11, 2003
NCJW Opposes Nomination of John Roberts to DC Circuit Court of Appeals