Committee chairman Arlen Specter on Tuesday asked
Supreme Court chief justice nominee John Roberts about his
pro bono work on a landmark case that overturned an
antigay Colorado law in 1996.
case of Romer v. Evans, Specter said to
Roberts, "You gave some advice on the arguments to those who
were upholding gay rights. There's a quotation by Walter
Smith, who was the lawyer at Hogan Hartson in charge
of pro bono work. And he had this to say about your
participation in that case...trying to help the gay
community in the case in the Supreme Court--Mr. Smith
said, quote, 'Every good lawyer knows that if there is
something in his client's cause that so personally
offends you, morally, religiously, or if it so offends you
that you think it would undermine your ability to do your
duty as a lawyer, then you shouldn't take it on. And
John'--referring to you--'wouldn't have.
So at a minimum, he had no concerns that would rise to
that level.' Does that accurately express your own
sentiments in taking on the [inaudible] to the gay
community in that case?"
responded, "I was asked frequently by other partners to help
out, particularly in my area of expertise, [and it] often
involved moot courting. And I never turned down a
request. I think it's right that if there had been
something morally objectionable, I suppose I would have.
But it was my view that lawyers don't stand in the shoes of
their clients and that good lawyers can give advice
and argue any side of a case. And as I said, I was
asked frequently to participate in that type of
assistance for other partners at the firm. And I never
turned anyone down."