Bush’s Man: John Roberts

Well, he’s not a woman like many were speculating. But John Roberts looks pretty good anyway.

Here’s the watershed quote from a brief Roberts co-wrote in 1990: “We continue to believe that Roe was wrongly decided and should be overruled . . . the Court’s conclusions in Roe that there is a fundamental right to an abortion and that government has no compelling interest in protecting prenatal human life throughout pregnancy find no support in the text, structure, or history of the Constitution” (source).

Some news outlets are already citing remarks that Judge Roberts made in 2003 in his confirmation hearing for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia: “Roe v. Wade is the settled law of the land . . . There is nothing in my personal views that would prevent me from fully and faithfully applying that precedent” (source).

I don’t think we can conclude from this statement that a Justice Roberts would uphold Roe v. Wade if it ever came to that. As a lower court Judge, Roberts is obliged to follow Supreme Court precedent. But as a Supreme Court Justice, he can vote to overturn that precedent, and it seems that he has indicated that he would do just that.

So don’t get upset when you see the pundits playing these two quotes against one another. I don’t think they are necessarily at odds.

Washington Post
New York Times


  • Anonymous

    Regarding Judge Roberts: neither of the quotes on Roe v. Wade reflect his personal view.
    The 1990 brief reflected the view of the administration he worked for while the 2003 quote was a statement of fact for an appellate judge. So we have no idea what his real views are.
    Personally, I am not thrilled about this pick – Bush could have picked better.

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