With President Bush’s nomination of District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals Judge John Roberts to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Catholics for the Common Good is calling Catholics to action to help assure that he does not fall victim to religious discrimination in the confirmation process as so many other faithful Catholic nominees have over the last four years.
As one would expect from this President, Roberts is a conservative and he has a reputation of fairness, thoroughness and strict adherence to the law and the Constitution. Described as a lawyer’s lawyer, he has earned wide respect from members of the legal profession including those with views across the political spectrum. He is also widely known and generally liked and respected by the Washington media.
One would think that he would easily go through the confirmation process, but the fact that he is a Catholic whose performance over his years of public service has indicated an adherence to Catholic teachings and values could cause problems for him.
It has already started
Catholics for the Common Good is concerned that in the shadows of Washington politics, interest groups and some Senate leaders will try to obstruct the confirmation of Judge Roberts simply because of his faith and values. In fact, it has already started. The Wall Street Journal reported that the media held a conference call the day after the nomination was announced with two of Roberts’ former colleagues seeking insight into his background and character. Among the topics of discussion, the reporters wanted to know what church Roberts went to and asked for names of people in the congregation with whom they could probe further.
A Roberts’ opponent, Jennifer Palmieri with the Center for American Progress, told The New York Times that there would be focus on his wife, Jane Sullivan Roberts, during the confirmation process. Also a devout Catholic, Mrs. Roberts has been active in the pro-life movement and is a past executive vice president and board member of Feminists for Life. Palmieri said, “In the absence of information about this guy, people are looking at her and trying to read the tea leaves.”