News Release

Law Professors Scrutinize Roberts * Quid Pro Quo? * Guantánamo Ruling * Federalist Society


The Washington Post reports today that “Judge John G. Roberts Jr. was interviewing for a possible Supreme Court nomination with top Bush administration officials at the same time he was presiding over a terrorism case of significant importance to President Bush.”

Professor of law at Georgetown University, Luban co-authored the recent article “Improper Advances: Talking Dream Jobs With the Judge Out of Court” in which he wrote: “Four days before President Bush nominated John G. Roberts to the Supreme Court on July 19, an appeals court panel of three judges, including Judge Roberts, handed the Bush administration a big victory in a hotly contested challenge to the president’s military commissions. The challenge was brought by Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a Guantánamo detainee. President Bush was a defendant in the case because he had personally, in writing, found ‘reason to believe’ that Hamdan was a terrorist subject to military tribunals. The appeals court upheld the rules the president had authorized for these military commissions, and it rejected Hamdan’s human rights claims — including claims for protection under the Geneva Conventions.”
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President of the Center for Constitutional Rights, Ratner is co-author of the book Guantánamo: What the World Should Know. He said today: “The news that potential Supreme Court nominee John Roberts was interviewed for the court seat by Attorney General Gonzales, Vice President Cheney and others while he was deciding a case that went to the heart of the legality of the administration’s so-called ‘war on terror’ should finish off his nomination. The central issue of Hamdan v. Rumsfeld was the application of the Geneva Convention to alleged terrorist detainees. The policy was crafted by the very people who were interviewing Roberts for his new job. He would have every reason to make sure his decision did not disagree with the administration: and it did not. The legal standard set forth in the U.S. law is that a judge should remove himself if his ‘impartiality might reasonably be questioned.’ No doubt about that — Roberts should have recused himself once the interviews commenced. His failure to do so should prevent his gaining a high court seat. But it may even raise more serious questions. Was Roberts being offered a bribe for his vote? People may recall that during the Daniel Ellsberg ‘Pentagon Papers’ trial, Nixon and his aides offered the judge the top FBI position. It was considered as a bribe by many and an impeachable offense. Is there really any difference in the two cases?”
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Professor of international law at the University of Illinois, Boyle said today: “In his answers to the Senate Judiciary Committee, John Roberts stated that he had ‘no recollection’ of his membership in the Federalist Society and being on its Steering Committee for Washington, D.C. Nevertheless, a high-level official in the Federalist Society has confirmed Roberts’ membership, and it has also been confirmed that all Federalist Society members pay dues. In other words, Roberts lied to Congress, which is a crime in its own right. For that reason alone, Roberts is disqualified to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate as an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. … The Senate Judiciary Committee must grill Roberts on all the positions and activities of the Federalist Society and its prominent members before rejecting him, thus exposing before a national audience the pernicious and insidious role that the Federalist Society has played in the American legal profession for the past two decades.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167