- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Federal Judge John G. Roberts Jr. downplayed his pro-bono legal work to help a homosexual rights group win one of the most significant Supreme Court cases regarding such rights.

“I was asked frequently by other partners to help out, particularly in my area of expertise,” he told Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania Republican. “And I never turned down a request.”

The 1996 decision in Romer v. Evans ruled unconstitutional a voter-approved constitutional amendment that barred municipalities from granting homosexuals a protected class under civil rights laws.

Mr. Specter read a quote from a former colleague of Mr. Roberts’ who said the nominee played a significant role in preparing the case.

“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,” said Mr. Specter, quoting former Hogan & Hartson lawyer Walter A. Smith. “And John — referring to you — wouldn’t have. So at a minimum, he had no concerns that would rise to that level.”

“I think it’s right that if there had been something morally objectionable, I suppose I would have” avoided involvement, Judge Roberts said. “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.”

While Judge Roberts did not write briefs or become deeply involved in preparing the case, he did review files and help prepare oral arguments for Lambda Legal without charge. He also played the role of conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in the mock trial.

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