Senator Says Pro-Life Work of John Roberts’ Wife Not Relevant

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 25, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Senator Says Pro-Life Work of John Roberts’ Wife Not Relevant Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 25, 2005

Washington, DC ( — A leading pro-life senator says it’s not appropriate to drag Supreme Court nominee John Roberts’ wife into the debate about his confirmation. Sen. Rick Santorum says attorney Jane Roberts’ work for Feminists for Life, a pro-life women’s group, should not become part of the debate about her husband.

"My wife has opinions on things that may or may not conform with mine, and I think most couples are in that situation," Santorum, the number three Republican in the Senate, told NBC’s "Today" show.

"And so I don’t think your wife’s activities should have any impact on what a judge is going to do," he added. "I certainly would think that he would tell you they don’t, nor should they. It’s the facts of a case and the law of a case."

Jane Roberts, an attorney at the high-powered Washington law firm of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, currently serves as the pro bono legal counsel for Feminists for Life. From 1995 to 1999 she served as Executive Vice President on Feminist for Life’s board of directors.

With a national debate about abortion and John Roberts’ views on the subject somewhat unclear, advocates on both sides are pointing to Jane’s work with the pro-life group as an indication that the nominee opposes abortion.

Pro-abortion Sen. Ted Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat, agrees with Santorum.

On Friday, he told reporters that Jane Roberts’ work "ought to be out of bounds."

Abortion advocates say they don’t need to focus on Jane Roberts’ views because they believe President Bush’s first Supreme Court pick has made his pro-life views clear in a law brief he filed which said Roe v. Wade should be overturned.

"We really think that the issue is John Roberts’ record of opposition to a woman’s right to choose," said David Seldin, a spokesman for NARAL, told the Associated Press. "He’s made it clear he can overturn Roe v. Wade all by himself. He doesn’t need his wife to help him do that."

Serrin Foster, president of Feminists for Life, a highly regarded group that has shown success in reaching out to college students with the pro-life message, says Jane Roberts’ work with her group should have no bearing on the confirmation vote.

"He stands alone for what he believes and what he does and what he thinks and will do, and this is the critical issue now," Foster said.

Roberts helped the organization in 1998, when she drafted an affidavit for the organization for a Kentucky case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of teenage mothers denied membership in the National Honor Society. The academic group claimed the teen mothers should not be a part of the group because of their pregnancies, despite their achievement in the classroom.

Feminists for Life argued that the Grant County, Kentucky, school system had discriminated against the two students, violating Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the state and federal constitutions, and the Kentucky Civil Rights Act. The organization said the teenagers would have been able to be a part of the honor society had they had abortions — a situation Foster’s group deplores.

Ultimately, courts decided in favor of the students and ruled the pregnant teens must be allowed to be a part of the honor society because their grades warranted membership.

The Robertses married in 1996 and the two have since adopted two children, Josephine and John, now 5 and 4.

Related web sites:
Feminists for Life of America –