Roberts Bad for Gay Rights?Leading gay advocacy groups like Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays uniformly oppose the nomination of John G. Roberts to the Supreme Court. These gay rights watchdogs are concerned over Roberts' decisions on women's reproductive rights, environmental issues and his ideologies of religion in schools. Advocates fear a history of inequality concerning these issues are precursors to future decisions concerning gay rights such as same-sex marriage and gay adoption.
Roberts Good for Gay Rights?In 1996, Roberts provided pro bono assistance in the landmark gay rights case, Romer vs. Evans- which overturned a 1992 Colorado voter initiative which allowed employers and landlords to discriminate against gays. As a private practice attorney with Hogan and Hartson (1993-2003), Roberts provided "behind the scenes" support for the case. He neither argued the case before the Supreme Court nor prepared legal briefs. The case was also left out of Robert's current 67-page response to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which asks for a list of pro bono cases.
365gay.com reports Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese as stating, "Judge Roberts' involvement in the case is noteworthy, but his participation adds little to our understanding of how he would vote on the court."
Where It StandsAs with anyone, previous history can only be used as a guide to predictions of future performance. Some will argue that one's history makes their future an absolute, while others see previous decisions and/or actions as just that- history.
However, with gay issues such as the legal right to marry, gay adoption, sodomy laws, hate crimes and others destined to stay before the court for many years to come, are we as glbt people willing to gamble with Roberts?
In a recent Yahoo! News report, Robert's compares the chief justice's role in the Supreme Court to an umpire in baseball. "Justices and judges are servants of the law, not the other way around. Judges are like umpires. Umpires don't make the rules; they apply them. Nobody ever went to a ballgame to see the umpire."
If Roberts holds with this ideology, the only remaining question is what rules will be in place during his term. With the exception of sodomy laws, the current rules don't favor gay rights.