The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Wednesday, July 27, 2005
 

Roberts against affirmative action?


A whole filing-cabinet-ful of John Roberts' writings as Reagan hack have been made public.

And, it seems, amongst the dead trees is something on AA:
In December 1981, the United States Commission on Civil Rights issued a report broadly defending affirmative action as a way to combat pervasive discrimination. Judge Roberts wrote a blistering critique, saying the "obvious reason" affirmative action programs had failed was that they "required the recruiting of inadequately prepared candidates."

Some in lefty circles seem to feel that this may be the smoking gun needed to turn the Dems from acquiescence to filibuster on Roberts' SCOTUS nom.

Now, Reagan could work the symbolism when it came to race - he famously gave his first speech in the 1980 campaign in Philapdelphia, MS.

But, in practice, my impression is that he was milky on AA. This guy agrees.

Was Roberts speaking from the heart, or telling his boss (or some intermediary) what Roberts thought he wanted to hear?

Heart? He's a lawyer, for crying out loud!

A propos, this 1997 Post piece comes up:
The high court bloc against affirmative action is led by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, appointed by President Richard M. Nixon and elevated by Reagan to chief in 1986; Sandra Day O'Connor, appointed by Reagan in 1981...

Right there, you've got a moral! (Umpteen pieces here on the Michigan University cases, tracing the triumph of experience over hope.)


MORE

This review article agrees that AA was not high up on Reagan's agenda.

The Post's piece yields a familiar name:
Much of Roberts's time at the Justice Department was taken up by the debate over GOP-sponsored bills in Congress that would have stripped the Supreme Court of its jurisdiction over abortion, busing and school prayer cases. He wrote repeatedly in opposition to the view, advanced by then-Assistant Attorney General Theodore B. Olson, that the bills were unconstitutional. He scrawled "NO!" in the margins of an April 12, 1982, note Olson sent to Smith. In the memo, Olson observed that opposing the bills would "be perceived as a courageous and highly principled position, especially in the press."

Solicitor-General Olson's limp and pallid excuse for a government brief in each of the Michigan cases made the way straight for Injustice O'Connor to do her worst.

So much for GOP administrations' wars on affirmative action! Chance would be a fine thing...


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