WASHINGTON – Nearly 200 clergy and faith leaders are calling for senators to vote against the confirmation of Judge John Roberts as Chief Justice of the United States, strongly criticizing his record of attempting to undermine legal safeguards that have moved the United States closer to equal justice for all citizens. The letter  says that Roberts’ record indicates that he would not “uphold the constitutional and legal principles that have advanced the cause of justice in America.”
“In his bid for re-election, President Bush promised to nominate new justices to the Court in the mold of Scalia and Thomas, and over the past eight weeks, we have become more concerned that Bush has fulfilled his promise,” said Rev. Steven Baines, chair of the Faith Action Network. “Roberts’ record indicates that he would turn his back on the very principles that make America the home of the brave and the land of the free – civil rights, the right to vote for all citizens, rights to privacy, and protections of religious liberty and separation of church and state. Senators must vote against his confirmation.”
Religious leaders from across the U.S. expressed with “deep and abiding concern” opposition to Roberts’ record on voting rights, fair housing initiatives, and the separation of church state. “It is increasingly evident that John Roberts has spent much of his career trying to undermine those protections, with little regard to the impact of his ideology on Americans’ lives and opportunities,” the letter states.
Among the signers of the letter is Rev. Dr. Susan Thistlethwaite, President of Chicago Theological Seminary, who testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee during yesterday’s Roberts hearings.
Roberts, who worked as an attorney in the Reagan White House and as the Deputy Solicitor General in the elder Bush’s administration, once declared affirmative action a program destined for failure because it required “recruiting of inadequately prepared candidates.” His position overlooks the vast numbers of accomplished minorities that have benefited from the opportunities that otherwise might not have been available. The letter’s signers also “profoundly disagree” that protections from housing discrimination could be considered “intrusion,” as they were described in a memo by Roberts urging the Reagan administration to “go slowly” on fair housing legislation.
“It is imperative that Senators listen to our concerns posed in the letter and vote against the confirmation of Judge John Roberts,” said Rev. Tim McDonald, chair of the African American Ministers in Action. “Americans deserve a chief justice who will not serve to satisfy the Tony Perkins, Pat Robertsons, and Jerry Falwells. Americans don’t deserve John Roberts on the Supreme Court.”
The letter was circulated by members of the Faith Action Network and African American Ministers in Action, projects of People For the American Way.