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Activists react to Roberts's support for gay rights

Activists react to Roberts's support for gay rights

Immediately following an August 4 Los Angeles Times story in which John Roberts, Bush's pick to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court, was revealed to have worked behind the scenes to help overturn an antigay Colorado constitutional amendment in 1996, several gay leaders expressed caution. While working with Washington, D.C., law firm Hogan and Hartson, Roberts did pro bono work for the team of gay activists and attorneys who convinced the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Amendment 2, a voter-approved law that prohibited any legal protections for gays and lesbians in Colorado.

But just because Roberts was closely involved doesn't mean gays and lesbians should be celebrating. "We're going to continue to call for the release of more information about his record, and we're going to continue to call for vigorous confirmation hearings," Kevin Cathcart, executive director of Lambda Legal, told "I don't think we have an answer yet as to what John Roberts's constitutional philosophies are."

"Judge Roberts's involvement in [the case, known as Romer v. Evans] is noteworthy, but his participation adds little to our understanding of how he would vote on the court," added Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese. "The stakes are too high for guessing games over Judge Roberts's stance."

Those lobbying for the religious right were quick to express doubts about Roberts, whom they had been touting as a great pick for the Supreme Court job. Mat Staver, president of the antigay conservative legal group Liberty Counsel, told the Baptist Press that Roberts's involvement in the gay rights case is "something to certainly be concerned about. We need more information to find out the facts behind what Judge Roberts did when he was working on the case. But if in fact the story is true, it is clearly concerning because, according to the story, Judge Roberts did not hesitate to get involved to work on this case pro bono.... If in fact he did this, this would be contrary to everything I've read about him thus far. This was a state constitutional amendment passed by the people. For the court to strike that down, I felt, was judicial activism."

Conservative talk show host Sean Hannity said he now has "some" doubts about Roberts. "It's the first sign I've seen where his conservative judicial philosophy...may not be as solid as what I thought," Hannity said on his radio program.

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