Latest Set of Documents Reveals Roberts’ Early Thinking
The documents, made up of everything from newspaper clippings to memos to the president and the White House counsel, are part of some tens of thousands of pages relating to Roberts that Democratic senators have been pushing to see before the Senate Judiciary Committee begins considering Roberts’ confirmation Sept. 6.
Perhaps the most scrutinized item within this week’s batch of documents, which covers Roberts’ work between 1982 and 1986, is a 1985 memo Roberts wrote to President Reagan concluding a memorial service for aborted fetuses was “an entirely appropriate means of calling attention to the abortion tragedy.”
While legal experts on both sides of the abortion debate, in interviews with the Washington Post, cautioned not to use the documents to predict how Roberts, 50, may rule in future abortion cases, the memo appeared to offer more insight into Roberts’ opinion on the volatile social subject.
“The president’s position is that the fetuses were human beings, or at least cannot be proven not to have been,” Roberts wrote, according to the Associated Press.
The memo reviewed a telegram President Reagan was sending to an anti-abortion association that wanted to hold a memorial for some 16,000 fetuses discovered three years earlier in a bin outside the California home of a man who managed a medical laboratory, according to the AP.
In addition to the abortion memo, the documents released this week also outlined some of Roberts’ thoughts on other issues.
In 1984, Roberts, who was in his 20s when he worked as an associate White House counsel, weighed in against a federal court decision that aimed to assure equal pay for women.
“I honestly find it troubling that three Republican representatives are so quick to embrace such a radical redistributive concept,” Roberts wrote in response to three congresswomen who had urged the White House not to join an appeal of the decision, according to the New York Times. “Their slogan may as well be ‘From each according to his ability, to each according to her gender.’”
And on a couple occasions, Roberts voiced support for prayer in public schools, writing in one instance that a Supreme Court case barring such action “seems indefensible.”
The National Archives release of the documents this week is expected to be followed next week by an even larger set of papers, according to the Times.