by Steven Ertelt
August 1, 2005
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said Monday he has "very serious concerns" about releasing Justice Department memos concerning Supreme Court nominee John Roberts to Senate Democrats. Gonzales also said he wouldn’t release any memos without an official request from the Senate Judiciary Committee.
In a Reuters interview, Gonzales said the Justice Department would not respond to an unofficial request from a group of Senate Democrats seeking memos about Roberts during his tenure there.
"There’s been no formal request by the committee. We normally respond to a formal request by the committee and not by one senator or a group of senators," Gonzales said.
The judicial panel doesn’t plan to hold hearings on Roberts until September 6 and there’s no word on whether Sen. Arlen Specter will send an official notice to Gonzales for the records.
On Friday, eight Senate Democrats sent Gonzales a letter seeking records related to Roberts service as deputy solicitor general during the administration of former President Bush.
During his time there, Roberts co-authored a legal brief to the Supreme Court in which he indicated the Roe v. Wade decision on abortion was bad law and should be overturned. The Democrats want internal memos related to the brief to determine if the comments reflected Roberts’ views, those of another co-author, or just the Bush administration.
A spokeswoman for Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the top Democrat on the committee, told Reuters that the eight Democrats "view it as an official request" even though Specter declined their request to sign the letter.
Gonzales cited a 2002 letter from several past solicitor generals of both parties who said "the sharing of this kind of information would be detrimental to the operation of the office of the solicitor general."
"I would have very serious concerns about the sharing of these kinds of documents because I do believe that they would hurt the operation of the solicitor general’s office and would weaken the effectiveness of that office," Gonzales told Reuters.
President Bush authorized the release of 75,000 documents related to Roberts but Senate Democrats have complained that’s not enough.
Meanwhile, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Monday that Roberts will continue this week to meet with members of the Senate. He has already met with 43 members, including 23 Democrats and all 18 members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
McClellan also said the president was pleased the Senate agreed to start hearings on September 6 that "will enable the committee and the Senate to move forward in a timely manner to have an up-or-down vote on Judge Roberts by the end of September."