Press

Task Force calls Roberts confirmation ‘beyond disappointing — outrageous’

Date: 
September 29, 2005

MEDIA CONTACT:
Roberta Sklar, Director of Communications
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646.358.1465

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force calls Roberts confirmation 'beyond disappointing — outrageous'

'The Roberts nomination experience leaves our community both demoralized by the Senate's action, yet galvanized to effect change.'
— Eleanor D. Acheson, Task Force Director of Public Policy and Government Affairs

WASHINGTON, Sept. 29 — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force deplores the U.S. Senate's vote today to confirm the nomination of Judge John Roberts as chief justice of the United States.

Statement by Eleanor D. Acheson, Director of Public Policy and Government Affairs

"The U.S. Senate today voted to confirm the nomination of John Roberts for chief justice of the United States without reviewing materials that constitute the most critical and telling part of his record and without getting meaningful answers about his views on critical legal and constitutional principles. This is beyond disappointing — it is outrageous.

"The Bush administration flatly refused to produce critical documents from Judge Roberts' tenure in the solicitor general's office, materials that have been produced in earlier judicial confirmation proceedings under both Democratic and Republican administrations. Seemingly oblivious to this precedent or the interests of the American people, the Senate failed to stand up to the administration and effectively relinquished its constitutional 'advise and consent' responsibilities. The Senate compounded this default by not holding Roberts' nomination until he fully answered all the questions asked.

"Many capitulated to this shoddy process apparently because they perceived that confirmation of Roberts would not affect the current balance on the court — namely, replacing one hard-line conservative, William Rehnquist, with another, John Roberts. This kind of acting and thinking undermines confidence in the Senate's trusteeship of our interests. It also makes clear what has to happen as far as who the nominee for the next vacancy is and how that process must proceed.

"The next nominee will be for the seat of the current court's pragmatic and often deciding vote, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. While O'Connor was born to comfortable circumstances, her pursuit of a law degree 50 years ago brought her face to face with bald and unapologetic discrimination. As a wife and mother of four children and a lawyer practicing from a strip-mall office, a state legislator and a state court judge, she saw the real life challenges of most Americans and, remarkably, has responded to them more vigorously as her tenure on the court lengthened.

"The next nominee must be a person whose life experience includes some real exposure to and understanding of the disadvantaged and marginalized in our society and of the diversity of our population in myriad respects. The next nominee needs to be a person who believes in civil and individual rights of all Americans, who subscribes to the view that Congress has the constitutional authority to legislate for the health, safety and welfare of our people and our environment, and who joins in the view that the federal courts are the final arbiter of rights and interests of the people.

"Now is the time for the Senate to do its duty by insisting on all relevant documents and full answers to questions. To do anything less — to have a repeat of the Roberts charade — would be a total sell-out of the American people."

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.