Kennedy: Roberts Holds “Cramped View of the Voting Rights Act”

Senator Ted Kennedy said today that the documents made public so far indicates that John Roberts, the Supreme Court nominee holds a “rather cramped view of the Voting Rights Act.”

Materials that Roberts drafted while at the Justice Department and White House counsel’s office during the Reagan administration “certainly raise some questions in my mind about his commitment” to civil rights, said Kennedy, D-Mass.

Kennedy’s remarks showed a willingness to raise pointed questions when most other Democrats have stuck to pleasantries about Roberts’ credentials ahead of his confirmation hearings.

Kennedy’s office invited reporters to a briefing, and aides distributed documents that touched on civil rights cases from two decades ago, when Roberts worked for the Reagan administration.

At the time, Congress was considering an extension of the 1965 Voting Rights Act against the backdrop of a Supreme Court ruling that held that “proof of intent” was needed to demonstrate someone’s rights had been violated.

House Democrats sought legislation to change so election results would be sufficient.

In a draft opinion article he sent to a county commissioner in San Antonio, Roberts wrote that the proposal would “not simply extend the existing and effective Voting Rights Act, but would dramatically change it. … It’s not broken so there’s no need to fix it.”

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