For Release: July 26, 2005
Contact: David Almasi at (202) 507-6398 x11
Black Activists Criticize False Document Controversy For Supreme Court Nomination, Manufactured Procedural Delays No Substitute for Genuine Advise and Consent
Liberal Senators may attempt to delay a confirmation vote for Judge John Roberts by forcing a fight with the Bush Administration over privileged work-related memos.
Citing other instances where procedural tactics have been used to obstruct confirmation processes, members of the conservative black leadership network Project 21 are renewing calls for senators to give the nomination fair and timely consideration as required by the Constitution.
"Liberals understand Judge Roberts is a qualified, accomplished and deserving candidate for the Supreme Court. This obstructionism speaks to the level they will go just to fight President Bush," said Ak'Bar Shabazz, a member of Project 21's Judicial Task Force.
The Bush Administration announced it will make public all Roberts-related documents from when he was special assistant to then-Attorney General William French Smith in 1981 and 1982 and all materials not restricted by "national security" and "public privacy" concerns from his work in the White House Counsel's office between 1982 and 1986.
While many documents from Roberts's 1989-1993 tenure with the Office of the Solicitor General were transferred to the National Archives in 1998 and are already available for examination, internal memos often related to legal strategy were withheld and will not be made available.
The total number of available Roberts documents currently totals over 75,000 pages.
Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales said on "Fox News Sunday" that the White House would "be as accommodating as we can" and possibly release some currently restricted documents on a "case-by-case" basis, but cautioned against a blanket release because they contain "very sensitive, very deliberative information." He warned that revealing such documents would "chill communications between line attorneys and their supervisors within the Department of Justice."
In addition to Gonzales, a bipartisan group of all living former solicitors general have gone on record opposing the release of internal memos.
Senator Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT), the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee and a key critic of Bush judicial nominations, called the privacy claim a "red herring." Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), who has made positive comments regarding Roberts, now tells The Washington Post he would not rule out a liberal filibuster of the Roberts nomination based on the restricted documents.
A document-related filibuster was conducted against Miguel Estrada's now-withdrawn nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Access to restricted documents fuels the ongoing obstruction of the nomination of John Bolton to be ambassador to the United Nations.
"The liberals are back to their old stalling tactics," added Shabazz. "Their attempt to obstruct the Roberts nomination through overzealous information requests shows they are already grasping at straws."
Project 21 takes no position on the confirmation of any particular judicial nominee, but believes that it is in the best interest of the United States that judicial vacancies are filled with appropriate speed.
Project 21, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization, has been a leading voice of the African-American community since 1992.
For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 507-6398 x11 or Project21@nationalcenter.org, or visit Project 21's website at http://www.project21.org/P21Index.html. New Visions Commentaries can be found at http://nationalcenter.org/P21NewVisions.html.
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