Thursday, August 04, 2005

Courts: The Good Roberts

The LA Times has an article about work John Roberts did on behalf of gay rights. And he did it pro-bono:
Roberts Donated Help to Gay Rights Case
In 1996, activists won a landmark anti-bias ruling with the aid of the high court nominee.

WASHINGTON — Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr. worked behind the scenes for gay rights activists, and his legal expertise helped them persuade the Supreme Court to issue a landmark 1996 ruling protecting people from discrimination because of their sexual orientation.

Then a lawyer specializing in appellate work, the conservative Roberts helped represent the gay rights activists as part of his law firm's pro bono work. He did not write the legal briefs or argue the case before the high court, but he was instrumental in reviewing filings and preparing oral arguments, according to several lawyers intimately involved in the case.

Gay rights activists at the time described the court's 6-3 ruling as the movement's most important legal victory. The dissenting justices were those to whom Roberts is frequently likened for their conservative ideology: Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

Roberts' work on behalf of gay rights activists, whose cause is anathema to many conservatives, appears to illustrate his allegiance to the credo of the legal profession: to zealously represent the interests of the client, whoever it might be.

[...] The case was argued before the Supreme Court in October 1995, and the ruling was handed down the following May. Suzanne B. Goldberg, a staff lawyer for New York-based Lambda, a legal services group for gays and lesbians, called it the "single most important positive ruling in the history of the gay rights movement."

I'm pretty confident that Roberts is an exceptional litigator. I also think an instance such as this can be instrumental in demonstrating that his record as a lawyer, even in the Solicitor General's office, is not necessarily indicitive of his future positions as a judge. He is "zealously representing the interests of his client."
[...] In the blistering dissent, Scalia, joined by Rehnquist and Thomas, said "Coloradans are entitled to be hostile toward homosexual conduct." Scalia added that the majority opinion had "no foundation in American constitutional law, and barely pretends to."

Anytime there's a "blistering dissent" from the Three Horsemen, it's usually a good thing.

UPDATE Yeah, except "Kelo v. New London." Oh, and the tip came from BlondeSense.

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