Late Friday afternoon, the Justice Department rejected the request from Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee for the release of relevant internal documents related to Supreme Court nominee John Roberts’ tenure as a top political appointee in the solicitor general’s office.
“After two weeks of troubling revelations about John Roberts’ efforts to undermine civil rights enforcement during the Reagan administration, the White House has decided to keep the rest of Roberts’ record locked away from the Senate and the American people,” said People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas. “Once again, the Bush administration is stonewalling the Senate.”
“The American people want to know where John Roberts stands,” said Neas. “They deserve to know where John Roberts stands. It is senators’ job to find out. What is the White House trying to hide?”
“The Constitution gives senators the responsibility to make an independent evaluation of the president’s nominees,” said Neas. “But they can’t do their job if they aren’t given access to records that will let them evaluate Roberts’ approach to our Constitution and laws.”
Neas said that the administration’s rationale for keeping documents secret – expressed in a letter from Assistant Attorney General William Moschella to Senator Patrick Leahy – has been publicly refuted. Similar documents have been released during other judicial confirmation proceedings, including the Supreme Court nominations of Robert Bork and William Rehnquist.