September 13, 2005

one catholic perspective on roberts

I will not claim to have spent the time or energy to evaluate John Roberts myself. But I did get this perspective (from Pax Chrisit USA) in my mailbox and thought I'd share it here, especially as it relates to Catholic Social Teaching:

Washington, D.C. - On the second-day of confirmation hearings for John Roberts, President Bush's nominee for chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, two national Catholic organizations have expressed serious concern over the choice of Roberts to lead the Court. Citing comments that Roberts has made regarding issues of protecting human life, individual rights, religious liberty, the death penalty and other principles of Catholic Social Teaching, both Pax Christi USA and Catholics for Faithful Citizenship raised questions about Roberts' commitment to the core issues of Catholic Social Teaching.

Both organizations have measured John Roberts against criteria set forth by Bishop William Skylstad, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in a letter Bishop Skylstad sent to President Bush regarding Supreme Court nominations. That letter asked the President to consider qualified jurists who support the protection of human life from conception to natural death, who are cognizant of the rights of minorities, immigrants and those in need, who respect the role of religion and religious institutions, who recognize the value of parental choice in education, and who favor restraining and ending the practice of the death penalty in the United States.

In evaluating comments that John Roberts has made on all of these issues, Pax Christi USA Executive Director Dave Robinson said that Roberts' positions were unclear around issues important to Catholics.

'When you look at the comments and statements John Roberts has made regarding the rights of minorities, abortion, immigration, poverty and the rights of the disabled, Roberts presents a very mixed record that should raise serious concerns for Catholics,' said Robinson. 'Of particular concern to Pax Christi USA are comments that Roberts has made suggesting narrow interpretations of the Voting Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as hard-line comments on immigration and international agreements like the Geneva Convention.'

Eric McFadden, Director of Catholics for Faithful Citizenship, said it's clear that John Roberts doesn't fit the picture of an ideal Supreme Court nominee, using the criteria set forth by Bishop Skylstad. 'Though Roberts has made some encouraging comments on issues like the death penalty and religious liberty, there's enough evidence in his public statements to show that Roberts has a very mixed record in regards to the framework set forth by Bishop Skylstad,' said McFadden. 'As the confirmation hearings on Roberts' nomination continue to move forward, our hope is that Roberts is called to accountability on this mixed record, and asked to explain more clearly his positions on issues that lie at the heart of Catholic Social Teaching.'

To view Bishop Skylstad's letter to President Bush on Supreme Court vacancies, click
, or visit