Kerry: American People Must Know Roberts’ Record on Civil Rights

As Ron noted in his post below, Supreme Court nominee John Roberts is considered by some to be a friend to business. However, civil rights activists are concerned about his stance on many civil rights issues. (See my post earlier today for links to Senator Kennedy’s press conference yesterday regarding John Roberts.)

John Kerry released a statement today regarding the new reports that Robert’s civil rights records may be withheld from Congress.

“Our country has traveled an incredible journey in the fight to guarantee civil rights to all Americans. From the days when Thurgood Marshall took Brown vs. the Board of Education to the Supreme Court through the present, an important part of this battle has taken place in the federal court system. The American people should know whether John Roberts will protect their consitutional rights if confirmed as a Justice to the Court.

I hope that both Judge Roberts and the Bush Administration will release all documents related to his professional record, including memoranda written during his time in the Justice Department. These documents should be released to the Congress in their entirety. The Senate has a challenge to meet its constitutional responsibility in the months ahead, and we can not do our duty if either Judge Roberts or the Bush Administration hides elements of his professional record. The Senate,and the American people, need to know the truth about Judge Roberts’ record to make a proper judgment.”

Kerry’s statement has hit the MSM with coverage from AP reaching the news wires a short time ago…

Kerry Seeks Release of Roberts’ Documents

“We cannot do our duty if either Judge Roberts or the Bush administration hides elements of his professional record,” said the Massachusetts senator who was his party’s presidential candidate last year.

Opening what is expected to be a broader attempt by Democrats to pry loose documents, Kerry issued his statement as Roberts made the latest in a series of courtesy calls on senators in advance of confirmation hearings.

Democratic officials also said Friday they want access to all material regarding Roberts at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California. Roberts served in the White House counsel’s office from 1982-1986. He was principal deputy solicitor general in the administration of President George H.W. Bush.

The Reagan Library, in Simi Valley, Calif., holds an unknown number of documents relating to Roberts, arranged by subject matter. While material in some subjects are designated on the library’s Web site as available to the public, most is not.

Among the publicly unavailable material is an entry marked “Specter, Senator.” Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will hold hearings on Roberts’ nomination, beginning either in late August or early September.

The Democratic officials said Democrats also are eager to learn details of Roberts’ activities in Florida in 2000, at the time of the state’s contested presidential recount. They spoke on condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to provide details.

Note the emphasis here on Kerry inserting himself into the Robert’s debate…

Kerry is not a member of the committee. But he nonetheless injected himself into the debate at the end of a week in which Bush appeared to catch Democrats off guard by picking a court candidate with conservative credentials, yet one with little judicial experience, and thus, little public paper trail.

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2 Responses to Kerry: American People Must Know Roberts’ Record on Civil Rights

  1. A few articles on Roberts today –

    “”I’m absolutely convinced that the administration knows exactly where this person is on issues, and the important issue is for the American people to know,” Sen. Edward Kennedy (news, bio, voting record), D-Mass., the longest serving member of the Judiciary Committee, said Friday.

    Kennedy, Schumer and Sen. Richard Durbin (news, bio, voting record), D-Ill., were the only committee members who voted against recommending Roberts’ confirmation as an appellate judge. All of them said Roberts wasn’t candid enough.

    Specifically, Roberts refused to say whether some key Supreme Court precedents were properly decided.

    In one lengthy exchange with Schumer, Roberts said disclosing his opinions could “distort” the judicial process.

    “It is either an effort to obtain a prior commitment from someone as a nominee about how they will decide the case … or it will have a distorted effect on how that judge will appear to parties appearing before him,” he said.”

    LINK

    Roberts’ record suggests belief in restrained judicial conduct

  2. More background on this story. Kennedy and Durbin will block Roberts if White House declines to provide documents —

    Democrats, including both Senators Kennedy and Durbin, continued to warn that they might seek to block Judge Roberts if he was not forthcoming about his legal thinking or if the White House declined to provide documents from his past legal work for Republican administrations.

    “Let me tell you, I think he was evasive” in his previous confirmation hearings, said Mr. Durbin, one of three Judiciary Committee members who voted against recommending Judge Roberts’s approval to the appeals court.

    In their meeting on Friday, Mr. Durbin said, “I urged Judge Roberts to be as honest and forthcoming as he can.” He added, “He said several times, ‘I want to look at previous nominees who came before the committee, and what they were able to say.’ ”

    LINK