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Phone: 202-296-6889
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For Immediate Release Contact: Doug Kendall
September 6, 2005 202 296-6889

The Chief Justice, Federalism, and Access to Federal Courts:
Special Role of Chief Justice Makes
Exploration of Roberts’ Views Even More Critical


In a letter released Friday to Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter and Ranking Member Patrick Leahy, Community Rights Counsel and six other national environmental organizations raised important concerns about the nomination of Judge John G. Roberts, Jr. to be Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.  The letter focused on Judge Roberts’ views on two critical issues: the scope of federal power to protect the environment and citizen access to federal courts.     

With President Bush’s announcement on Monday that Roberts will be nominated to be Chief Justice of the United States, these concerns become of paramount importance. The Chief Justice wields significant authority as spokesperson for the federal judiciary and chair of the Judicial Conference, and he can use this authority to amplify his own vision of the proper role of the federal judiciary. As explained in the attached memorandum entitled “The Chief Justice, Federalism, and Access to Federal Courts,” released today by Community Rights Counsel, Chief Justice Rehnquist used the special powers of Chief Justice aggressively to promote his views on federalism and access to courts, by, for example, supervising the production of the first-ever long range plan for the federal courts.

As a former Rehnquist clerk, Judge Roberts is certainly aware of the example set by his predecessor. His plans for the future of the federal judiciary must be carefully explored during his hearings next week.

To see this memorandum click here.


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