Roberts could share his view
This op-ed appeared Sept. 15 in the Tampa Tribune and Sept. 16 in the Gainesville Sun.
By: Winston Nagan
Winston Nagan is the Sam T. Dell Research Scholar Professor of Law at the University of Florida Levin College of Law and director of the Institute for Human Rights, Peace and Development.
In his opening statement Monday, Judge John G. Roberts Jr. said that while gazing on Indiana’s fields as a youth, he saw no boundaries or limitations to opportunity.
This was a critical expression of the American dream. As the Roberts hearings continue, lawmakers must press Roberts on whether he will seek to share his dream with victims of discrimination.
Many Americans are concerned by discrimination against minorities, women, the disabled, gays, and the elderly – a concern highlighted in recent weeks by the pitiful images flowing from post-Katrina New Orleans.
The matter goes beyond the hot button issues of diversity and affirmative action. The core issue is whether the Constitution is an appropriate instrument to protect the powerless and marginalized citizens of America.
Although he testified Tuesday that he supported it, Judge Roberts has questioned the principle of individual privacy in the past.
If he is not fully supportive of this principle, it’s essential to ask: Would his feelings lead to a radical change in ordinary American’s expectation about the very foundations of freedom in their personal lives?
The stakes here are much broader than the Roe v. Wade decision.
In a lesser-known Supreme Court case, Griswold v. Connecticut, the principle of individual privacy was established and strengthened.
Privacy involves matters of personal lifestyle, which reflects on private morality.
Yet the control and regulation of sexual relations and reproduction has long been the sought-after purview of governments and especially, religious establishments.
Thus, Robert’s test. Will he support the right to privacy enshrined by Griswold, or not?
He must state his views about the scope of Americans’ precious liberties under the Constitution – and whether he believes the right to be let left alone is no longer guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.
President Bush campaigned on a platform that he would nominate a conservative justice committed to a so-called strict interpretation of the Constitution. But Bush well knows that “strict” is a loaded term in the current cultural war.
What Judge Roberts owes the American people now is an explanation of his views on the most hallowed and precious American rights – primary among them, privacy and freedom from discrimination.
- Media Contact
- Aaron Hoover, email@example.com, 352-392-0186