Memos Show John Roberts Praising Criticism of Abortion Decision

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 2, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Memos Show John Roberts Praising Criticism of Abortion Decision Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 2, 2005

Washington, DC ( — New sets of memos on Supreme Court nominee John Roberts find the former Reagan administration official praising a former Attorney General’s speech criticizing the right to privacy, the fictitious right the high court invented to form the basis of the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.

The National Archives posted new documents about Roberts on its web site and some of them deal with his tenure as special assistant to Attorney General William French Smith in 1981.

In a December 1981 memo to Smith, Roberts praised a speech given by former Harvard law dean Erwin Griswold that Roberts wrote was consistent with Smith’s views. The speech criticized the Roe v. Wade decision.

Griswold "devotes a section to the so-called ‘right to privacy,’ arguing as we have that such an amorphous right is not to be found in the Constitution. He specifically criticizes Roe v. Wade," Roberts wrote.

"You were quite right that I would find a ‘measure of resonance’ in your lecture," Roberts later wrote in a letter to Griswold on Smith’s behalf.

Roberts, writing for Smith, praised Griswold for sounding "some of the themes I have been addressing recently” about courts "restricting themselves to the proper judicial function.”

Another document the National Archives released is a "Draft Article on Judicial Restraint” stating that courts should not "discern such an abstraction in the Constitution” as the "right to privacy.”

Roberts name does not appear on the draft, but a letter is included to Roberts from Bruce Fein, an associate deputy attorney general, suggesting an addition to "your draft article."

The Senate Judiciary Committee is slated to begin hearings on Roberts on September 6 and abortion is expected to be a controversial issue. They will ask whether the various memos Roberts has written about abortion reflect his own views or those of the Reagan and Bush administrations, for whom he worked.