Bush Uses Smoke and Mirrors to Obscure Roberts Record

White House Stonewalls on Key Solicitor General Documents

People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas said today that the White House is releasing a relative handful of already publicly available documents written by Supreme Court nominee Judge John Roberts in order to hide the fact that critical documents from his tenure in the Reagan and Bush I administrations are being withheld.

Despite the fact that such documents have been provided to the Senate in previous Supreme Court nominations, the Bush White House is refusing to give the Senate Roberts’ papers from his tenure as a Deputy Solicitor General during the Bush “41” Administration. And while a limited number of Roberts’ papers are already available from the Reagan presidential library, the White House is slow-rolling release of the overwhelming majority of the documents so there will be insufficient time for Senators to assess the papers before Roberts’ confirmation hearings.

Roberts was the top political deputy under Ken Starr in the Bush I administration Solicitor General’s office, where his performance at the young age of 37 earned him a nomination to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. He was a top political and legal strategist during contentious debates over voting rights, affirmative action, reproductive choice, school desegregation the separation of church and state, environmental protection and discrimination in federally funded education programs against women, minorities, people with disabilities, and older Americans. Neas said the memos detailing Roberts’ thinking as the administration attempted to roll back individual privacy rights and freedoms must be released to the Senate.

“What are they trying to hide? John Roberts was at the epicenter of debates on the most critical civil rights issues of our times. Those documents could tell the Senate and the American people whether John Roberts will be a Supreme Court justice who will protect our most fundamental rights, or roll them back,” said Neas. “The White House should release all the documents to the Senate and to the public as appropriate as quickly as possible.”

Neas said the White House is pursuing a dual strategy to obfuscate Roberts’ record: stonewalling on the documents, while simultaneously pressing for confirmation hearings in August to push the Roberts nomination through with unprecedented speed.

“What’s the rush? What questions do they want to avoid? John Roberts lacks a public record on key constitutional issues, yet the most ideological members of the radical right are wildly enthusiastic about this nomination. What do they know that we don’t?” Neas asked. “This is the highest court in the land. The American people deserve a painstaking and thorough examination of this nominee.”

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