As Stakes Are Raised, Lambda Legal Renews Call for Thorough Hearings on the Nomination of John Roberts for Chief Justice: Petition Drive in Full Swing

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"A firm commitment of equality and justice for all Americans is a measure of fitness to serve on the U. S. Supreme Court"
September 6, 2005

(New York, September 6, 2005) — Statement by Lambda Legal Executive Director Kevin Cathcart in response to the death of Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and the president’s nomination of John Roberts as his successor.

“Last weekend, as the nation remained gripped by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, came the news of Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist’s death. President Bush must now fill two vacancies, and will shape the leadership of the Court for decades to come. And he’s moving with lightning speed — less than 36 hours after Chief Justice Rehnquist’s death, in the early hours of Labor Day, he announced that his nominee for Chief Justice is John Roberts.

“Chief Justice Rehnquist consistently voted in opposition to equality for gay Americans. But his staunch conservativism did not always prevail thanks to more moderate conservatives like Justices O’Connor and Kennedy. Justice O’Connor’s retirement, combined with the passing of Chief Justice Rehnquist, changes the picture dramatically and raises the stakes for those who care about full equality for all Americans.

“If John Roberts, who is 50, is confirmed, he could lead the Supreme Court through the terms of a half-dozen Presidents. It is now more critical than ever that Roberts forthrightly answer, a full range of questions about his judicial philosophy during his upcoming confirmation hearings. We call on the U.S. Senate to scrutinize Roberts’s nomination vigorously because a firm commitment of equality and justice for all Americans is a measure of fitness to serve on the U. S. Supreme Court.

“Lambda Legal has provided the Senate Judiciary Committee with 30 questions that John Roberts needs to answer to determine whether he will defend the rights of gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people and those affected with HIV. Getting answers to those questions is even more critical now. As a result, we’ve extended the deadline for our petition to the U.S. Senate, which demands that those questions be asked and answered.”

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