Kennedy on Civil Rights: A Comparison to the Roberts Ideology has an excellent comparison of Senator Kennedy and John Roberts ideology on Civil Rights. here’s a couple of quips:

Where Senator Kennedy Stands:

Senator Kennedy was a strong supporter of the 1964 legislation and has been a leading participant in Congressional efforts to expand the protections afforded by our civil rights laws and to make them more effective in overcoming the effects of discrimination throughout his career. He played a central role in enactment of legislation outlawing discrimination in housing, prohibiting gender discrimination, the Age Discrimination Act, and the Americans with Disability Act. He has also authored amendments strengthening enforcement of key provisions of the Civil Rights Act.

Where John Roberts Stands:

Throughout his years in the Reagan Administration, John Roberts’ name appears frequently on documents urging a narrowing of the prevailing interpretation of civil rights laws. The desire to restrict the legal protections afforded by the civil rights laws is evident across the gamut of issues – from voting rights to equal educational opportunity, from employment to fair housing, from discrimination by federally-funded institutions to affirmative action. From these documents a consistent pattern emerges: John Roberts opposes action by the federal government – whether legislative or judicial – to overcome discrimination. There is little in his later career to demonstrate that he has abandoned his earlier extreme views.

Voting Rights Act of 1965; This landmark Act applied a nationwide prohibition against the denial or abridgment of the right to vote, banned literary tests, led to the end of the use of the poll tax, and targeted areas of the country with especially troubling voting rights records by giving the Attorney General broad discretion (later upheld by the Supreme Court) to monitor and police the laws of these areas.

Where Senator Kennedy Stands:

Senator Kennedy was a co-sponsor of the original legislation and continues to work to strengthen and protect the law. He and Senator Specter will co-sponsor the 2005 Reauthorization. He led the fight in 1970, 1975 and particularly in1982 and drafted amendments which among other changes, extended the Attorney General’s powers in the face of new evidence of systemic discrimination and provided additional protection to language-minority voters under Section 2 of the Act. The legislation made clear that election rules which had a discriminatory effect should not be allowed, even if there was not sufficient proof of discriminatory intent. This year, on the Act’s 40th anniversary he was a leading voice calling for its quick reauthorization and the extension of the temporary provisions, especially those targeting areas showing evidence of systemic discrimination.

Where John Roberts Stands:

John Roberts, as an attorney in the Reagan Justice Department, actively worked to undermine the Act. In 1982 he urged the Administration to take an “aggressive stance” against Section 2 which prohibits voting practices or procedures that discriminate on the basis of race, color, or membership in one of several listed language minority groups. And during the 1982 reauthorization, Roberts advocated that the law should bar only voting rules that discriminate intentionally, rather than those that have a discriminatory effect – a standard that would have seriously weakened the Act. Senator Kennedy waged a successful battle to strengthen the Act.

Fair Housing Act of 1968; extended civil rights and anti-discrimination laws to the provision of housing.

The entire comparison can be found here.

Transcript of Senator Kennedy’s questioning of Judge Roberts on Wednesday.

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About Pamela Leavey

Pamela Leavey is the Editor in Chief, Owner/Publisher of The Democratic Daily as well as a freelance writer and photographer. Pamela holds a certificate in Contemporary Communications from UMass Lowell, a Journalism Certificate from UMass Amherst and a B.A. in Creative Writing and Digital Age Communications from UMass Amherst UWW.
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