The confirmation of John G. Roberts is probably a done deal, but that doesn't mean that it's a good idea. George W. Bush's Supreme Court nominee seems to be skating through the Senate on the feeling that he's not Janice Rogers Brown-weird and the pretense that the pretty consistently conservative views he has expressed to date were merely the work product of a lawyer representing clients who just happened to be conservative themselves.
But as papers from Roberts' past continue to dribble out, the latter argument is getting a little harder to make. As the Chicago Tribune reports today, Roberts, while working as a young lawyer in the Reagan White House, was extremely critical of the notion that women should receive equal pay for work comparable in value to that done by men. He said that it was "difficult to exaggerate the perniciousness of the 'comparable worth' theory," and he said it would require "nothing less than the central planning of the economy by judges." When three female Republicans in Congress endorsed the idea, Roberts was incredulous. "I honestly find it troubling that three Republican representatives are so quick to embrace such a radical redistributive concept," he wrote.
The analysis came in a memo that Roberts wrote to then-White House Counsel Fred Fielding -- which is to say, not in a legal brief he had to file on behalf of a client. In another such memo, Roberts said he thought a Supreme Court decision that prohibited silent prayer in schools was "indefensible." In another, he said he thought it would be "entirely appropriate" to hold a memorial service to call attention "to the abortion tragedy." The memo came, as the Washington Post notes, at the end of a court battle over whether 16,500 aborted fetuses should be turned over to anti-abortion activists for burial. In yet another memo, Roberts said abortion rights in America were based on the "so-called 'right to privacy.'" That is the same "so-called right" that stands between married couples and a state legislature's desire to outlaw contraception.
As the Post observes, the memos, which were among the documents released Monday by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, show that Roberts has "staked out conservative positions on a broader array of issues than has previously been known." And there is, presumably, more of the same to come. Among the documents that weren't released Monday: memos Roberts wrote about presidential pardons and the tax exempt status for Bob Jones University, approximately 20 pages from a Roberts file on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and other papers relating to affirmative action.