“Supreme Court nominee John Roberts worked behind the scenes for a coalition of gay-rights activists, and his legal expertise helped them persuade the Supreme Court to issue a landmark 1996 ruling protecting people against discrimination because of their sexual orientation,” reports the LAT via The Seattle Times.

However, “[p]erhaps because he didn’t argue the case or play a leading public role,” observes ABC’s The Note,

Judge Roberts neglected to include in the Judiciary Committee questionnaire a mention of the gay rights pro bono case to which he contributed some time.

Well, Roberts DOES have a short memory. (Who? Me? Federalist Society?). And the pro bono work was clear back in the 1990s.

ABC’s The Note speculates further:

Let’s be clear: he worked with gay rights activists on their brief. And this was THE major gay rights case of the 1990s.

Was he a senior enough partner to decline to do the pro bono work?

Or did he accept the assignment with relish? Or somewhere in between?

We are breathless in wondering why the Times article does not include reaction from conservative activists or the White House or Sam Brownback? (We are trying to get us some reax our own ourselves.) Which conservative legal groups who support Roberts for the SCOTUS slot filed amicus briefs in that case against his side?

This thing could explode or go nowhere.

Oh, let’s let it explode.

Again, from the LAT article via The Seattle Times:

Then a lawyer specializing in appellate work, the conservative Roberts helped represent the gay activists as part of his law firm’s pro bono work. While he did not write the legal briefs or argue the case before the Supreme Court, he was instrumental in reviewing the filings and preparing oral arguments, according to several lawyers involved in the case.

The coalition won its case, 6-3, in what gay activists described at the time as the movement’s most important legal victory. The three dissenting justices were those to whom Roberts is frequently likened for their conservative ideology: Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

Roberts’ work on behalf of gay activists, whose cause is anathema to many conservatives, appears to illustrate his allegiance to the credo of the legal profession: to zealously represent the interests of the client, whoever it might be. …


Jean Dubofsky, lead attorney on the case and a former member of the Colorado Supreme Court, said she came to Washington to prepare for the U.S. Supreme Court presentation and immediately was referred to Roberts.

“Everybody said Roberts was one of the people I should talk to,” Dubofsky said. “He has a better idea on how to make an effective argument to a court that is pretty conservative, and hasn’t been very receptive to gay rights.

“John Roberts … was just terrifically helpful in meeting with me and spending some time on the issue. He seemed to be very fair-minded and very astute.”

Dubofsky said Roberts helped her form the argument that the initiative was illegal because it violated the “equal-protections” clause of the Constitution.

In a blistering dissent in the case, Scalia, joined by Rehnquist and Thomas, had said that “Coloradans are entitled to be hostile toward homosexual conduct.” Scalia added that the majority opinion giving the victory to the gay-rights activists “has no foundation in American constitutional law, and barely pretends to.”

Stouter souls than I can check out the Free Republic boards for their reactions. Should be fun.

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