Roberts Bait-and-Switch

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


The front page of the Los Angeles Times breathlessly reports: “Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr. worked behind the scenes for gay rights activists, and his legal expertise helped them persuade the Supreme Court to issue a landmark 1996 ruling protecting people from discrimination because of their sexual orientation.”

Oh my, so maybe Roberts isn’t such a run-of-the-mill right-winger after all, eh?

Wrong.

Reading the story closely, it becomes clear that Roberts himself didn’t take up this case, nor did he act as chief litigator. His firm, Hogan & Hartson, took up the case pro bono, and the firm “expected” its employees to pitch in from time to time. A colleague in need of assistance approached Roberts, because he was the guy who knew what sort of arguments would best appeal to a relatively conservative Supreme Court. And Roberts, quite naturally, helped out, and did a very professional job of it, because he’s an extremely smart lawyer. Nor does it seem so unlikely that he would have forgotten to mention a decade-old case for which he provided incidental help. The whole ordeal seems perfectly ordinary, and doesn’t provide any indication that Roberts might somehow cast a friendly eye on gay rights as a sitting justice on the Supreme Court. In all likelihood, he won’t. So to answer Kevin Drum’s question, some liberal muckraker probably floated this story to the Times to roil up a bit of discontent with Roberts among the religious right. If they take the bait, good, but liberal opponents of Roberts really shouldn’t get their hopes up.

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate