by Steven Ertelt
July 25, 2005
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The White House will not likely release memos leading Senate Democrats are requesting that could shed light on Supreme Court nominee John Roberts’ views on abortion and other political issues.
Democrats want memos about Roberts’ involvement in the Reagan and first Bush administrations to determine his stances on controversial issues like abortion.
Fred Thompson, the former Tennessee senator President Bush selected to help shepherd Roberts’ nomination through the Senate, said the president and top aides believe that not releasing the memos is important to maintain the high level of security needed for internal deliberations on current issues.
”The administration has been pretty consistent on that — in fact, I think very consistent — in that those things will not be forthcoming," Thompson told the Boston Globe. ”We hope we don’t get into a situation where documents are asked for that folks know won’t be forthcoming."
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, speaking on "Fox News Sunday," added that releasing internal documents regarding a nominee is "not something that the administration or any White House would be inclined to share, because it is so sensitive."
Gonzales said it would "chill communications between line attorneys and their superiors within the Department of Justice."
Democrats have not yet made formal requests for the documents, but former presidential candidate John Kerry, on Friday, said he wants to see them.
Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, told ABC’s ”This Week" on Sunday that there is significant precedent for turning over such documents.
”It’s a total red herring to say, ‘Oh, we can’t show this.’ And of course there is no lawyer-client privilege," he said.
If the White House doesn’t hand over the documents, it could emerge as the biggest obstacle for Roberts’ confirmation. He currently appears to be headed for an easier approval than most observers previously thought and has strong backing thus far from the public.
Yet, the Bush administrations decision to not release internal documents related to appeals court nominee Miguel Estrada caused Senate Democrats to filibuster his nomination and he ultimately withdrew from the confirmation process.
Under President Reagan, Roberts served as an aide to Attorney General William French Smith from 1981 to 1982 and to White House counsel Fred Fielding from 1982 to 1986.
Between 1989 and 1993, he was the principal deputy solicitor general for the first President Bush. It was then that he participated in a Supreme Court brief where he argued that the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized unlimited abortion was bad law and should be overturned.
Democrats want to know if those views were Roberts’ or whether they represented one of the other attorneys who worked on the brief or just Bush’s.
”It’s a question about the values and principles that guided Roe v. Wade," Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the number two Democrat, told the Globe newspaper. ”In this situation, I think we have a right to know where John Roberts stands."
Durbin, who was one of only three Democrats on the judicial panel to vote against Roberts’ confirmation to the D.C. Circuit Appeals Court, said he would oppose Roberts again if he indicates he is opposed to Roe.