- The Washington Times - Monday, July 25, 2005

The Bush administration does not plan to surrender all of federal Judge John G. Roberts Jr.’s papers from when he was deputy solicitor general, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales said yesterday.

“This is, of course, very sensitive, very deliberative information that you’re talking about,” Mr. Gonzales told Brit Hume yesterday on “Fox News Sunday.” “Generally, that’s not something that we, the administration, or anyone in the White House would be inclined to share.”

The refusal sets up a showdown between the White House and Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee who have said they want to see some of the documents from the time when Judge Roberts worked for previous Republican administrations.

Specifically, Mr. Gonzales said the White House does not want to reveal any documents that are subject to attorney-client privilege. Doing so, he said, would “just chill communications between line attorneys and their superiors within the Department of Justice.”

Some documents, however, might fall outside the privilege and will be handed over on a “case-by-case” basis, said Mr. Gonzales, adding that the administration would “be as accommodating as we can.”

Former Sen. Fred Thompson, the Tennessee Republican assigned to shepherd Judge Roberts through the confirmation process, said yesterday that all living solicitors general — both Democrats and Republicans — have urged the White House to keep the lid on those documents.

“We hope we don’t get into a situation where documents are asked for that folks know will not be forthcoming and we get all hung up on that,” Mr. Thompson said yesterday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, called the privacy claims a “red herring.”

“There is no lawyer-client privilege. Those working in the Solicitor General’s Office are not working for the president; they’re working for you and me and all the American people,” Mr. Leahy said on ABC’s “This Week.”

Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, said Friday that he wants to see all the documents pertaining to Judge Roberts’ time working in the Solicitor General’s Office under the first President Bush and his time in the Reagan White House counsel’s office.

Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican and member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said last week that he thinks Democrats are looking to “Estradify” the nominee — a reference to D.C. attorney Miguel Estrada, whose nomination to the federal bench was filibustered and ultimately thwarted over Democrats’ unmet demands for privileged information.

“Senator Kerry, for one, has already made a comprehensive request in setting potentially the gamesmanship we saw with Miguel Estrada and even to some extent with John Bolton in a game of gotcha,” Mr. Cornyn said yesterday on Fox.

One Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee said senators “have a right to know” Judge Roberts’ views on abortion rights.

“It’s a question about the values and principles that guided Roe v. Wade,” Sen. Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, said on “Meet the Press.” “I think we have a right to know where John Roberts stands when it comes to fundamental issues of privacy and personal freedom.”

Another Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York, said he would “like to vote for” Judge Roberts’ confirmation, saying the nominee “made a good first impression,” but added that he had given the judge a list of “60 or 70 questions” and expected answers.

“We simply want to determine if Judge Roberts is a mainstream thinker,” Mr. Schumer said. “This is not a game of gotcha,” he said, calling the questions a “means to simply determining Justice Roberts’ judicial views.”

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