Conservatives everywhere, including leaders of the Religious Right, are fawning over President Bush's nominee to replace Chief Justice William Rehnquist, Judge John Roberts. They are praising Roberts as a "conservative," a "strict constructionist," and are even calling him "pro-life." However, Roberts' personal statements and judicial track record reveal something entirely different.
First, unlike Justice Rehnquist, Roberts has said or done nothing to indicate that he objects to the Roe v Wade decision legalizing abortion on demand. Instead, "John Roberts pledged to respect established ruling if confirmed to the Supreme Court, saying judges must recognize that their role is 'not to solve society's problems.'" (Source: NewsMax.com)
If Roberts can be taken at his word, he considers the Roe v Wade decision "settled law" and, therefore, would do nothing to overturn it. (By way of comparison, it would be interesting to know if he also would feel that the Dred Scott decision legalizing slavery was "settled law" and, therefore, worthy of "respect.") This conclusion is also shared by conservative pundit Charles Krauthammer. In The Buffalo News, Krauthammer wrote, "I predict two things: (a) Chief Justice Roberts will vote to uphold Roe v Wade, and (b) his replacing his former boss, Chief Justice Rehnquist, will move the court only mildly, but most assuredly, to the left-as measured by the only available yardstick, the percent of concurrences with the opinions of those conservative touchstones, Scalia and Thomas. I infer this not just by what Roberts has said in his hearings-that he supports Griswold v Connecticut, that he respects precedent, that he finds Roe itself worthy of respect. I infer it from his temperament, career and life history as an establishment conservative who prizes judicial modesty above all. Which means while he will never repeat Roe, he will never repeal it and be the cause of the social upheaval that repeal would bring."
Krauthammer is not the only conservative to understand that the Roe decision is not threatened by a Roberts appointment. Leading Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said, "Supreme Court nominee John Roberts cannot be counted on to vote to overturn the Roe versus Wade decision that legalized abortion." This statement was made on Fox News Sunday and reported by Tyler, Texas ABC affiliate KLTV.
Therefore, those conservatives who are claiming that President Bush "kept his promise" to appoint a conservative, pro-life nominee to the Supreme Court are either woefully ignorant of the real John Roberts or are willing to support him simply because Bush appointed him. However, the dissimilarity between Roberts and Rehnquist does not end with the abortion issue.
While Justice Rehnquist was a consistent foe of pro-homosexual rulings by the court, Roberts' track record on the subject reveals something vastly different. "[C]oncerning the 'pro-bono' work which Judge Roberts did for Lambda Legal Defense, a homosexual activist group, in the run-up to a pro-homosexual decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Romer v. Evans, Roberts made clear that he found nothing morally objectionable in abetting the sodomite cause." (Source: Howard Phillips) It is more than interesting that Roberts did not mention his work on the gay-rights case in his 67-page response to a Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire even though the questionnaire specifically asked for "specific instances" in which he had performed pro bono work.
Furthermore, long time Roberts friend, Edward Lazarus, expresses the view that John Roberts would share practically nothing in common with conservative justices Rehnquist, Scalia, or Thomas. Lazarus said, "Putting politics aside, the current Court member Roberts most resembles is Stephen Breyer." It could be argued that Breyer is more liberal than even David Souter or Anthony Kennedy!
The bottom line is, G.W. Bush has done what he has been doing for over five years: pulling the wool over the eyes of conservatives, leading them to believe he shares their values and principles, all the while making decisions that prove just the opposite.
Should Roberts be confirmed as the Supreme Court's next Chief Justice (and I'm sure he will), he will doubtless do exactly what Mr. Lazarus predicted and turn the court further leftward. That means unborn babies will continue to be legally murdered, homosexuality will continue to enjoy most-favored-lifestyle status, there will be more Eminent Domain rulings, and even more egregious Patriot Act-style rulings.
However, it could even get worse. Bush has already thrown out Alberto Gonzales' name to replace Sandra Day O'Connor! May God help us, because we are certainly getting no help from the Republicans in Washington, D.C. or from the leaders of the Religious Right!
© Chuck Baldwin
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