Chief Justice John Roberts Appoints Former Colleague as Chief of Staff

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 14, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Chief Justice John Roberts Appoints Former Colleague as Chief of Staff

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 14, 2006

Washington, DC ( — In a move that could have abortion implications, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts has selected a former colleague and government attorney Jeffrey Minear as his chief of staff. Minear has participated in briefs and written papers on behalf of the White House arguing against abortion.

Minear is a longtime attorney in the solicitor general’s office and was an attorney there during the Bush administration from 1989-1992.

The two collaborated on several cases including the 1991 Supreme Court case of Rust v. Sullivan. The case was significant in that the high court said the government could prevent federally funded family planning clinics from counseling or referring for abortion

Roberts, then the Deputy Solicitor General, was listed second on the brief and Minear was third.

The pair also co-wrote a government brief arguing that Roe v. Wade was "wrongly and unfortunately decided."

Minear has argued 56 cases before the Supreme Court and one court observers said Roberts’ choice of his former colleague to head his Supreme Court staff likely means his is very serious about shaping the high court’s future court policy on major issues during the decades he could be running it.

"Minear is a major Supreme Court figure, which certainly suggests the chief has aspirations to make this a major position," Richard Lazarus, a Georgetown University professor who worked in the solicitor general’s office for four years, told the Associated Press.

"I have worked with (and against) Jeff over nearly two decades and during that time I have seen firsthand his strong commitment to the Supreme Court as an institution and his respect for its role in our system of government," Roberts said in a prepared statement.

Minear won’t craft Supreme Court opinions and his role will mostly be helping to run the administrative side of the court, but his influence will be felt as Roberts confronts cases.

Minear was also a co-author of a legal paper filed in 1991 in a Supreme Court case on behalf of the Bush administration.

The case involved Michael Bray, who was found guilty of bombing abortion businesses.
While not defending the acts of violence or any illegal actions, the brief argued that a federal civil rights law should not be used to punish protesters who engage in illegal activities. Roberts and Minear simply argued state laws are effective enough.

The Supreme Court ultimately sided with the Bush administration.

Jay Sekulow, chief attorney at the American Center for Law and Justice said, the high court "correctly concluded that the application of this 120-year-old law to silence the pro-life community was not permissible."