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Did Roberts favor a ban on interracial dating at Bob Jones?

Judge Roberts also kept a file on at least one other contentious civil rights issue, the conflict over the government’s right to strip the tax exemption of Bob Jones University because of its ban on interracial dating. That file is not among those presently available for review, according to the library’s listing.

New York Sun article, on Roberts papers held in the Reagan library that will not be released without permission from the Bush Admin

These papers must be made available.

Chimpy’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge John Roberts Jr., obviously has information on his positions on civil rights that are relevant to his confirmation, but the Reagan library archivist says they will be released only upon request of the Bush Admin. Roberts served as associate counsel in the Reagan White House, and while there are 4000+ documents publicly available, most of his work hasn’t been processed.

Aside from the fact that we may learn Robert is a legal friend of Bob Jones University’s right to discriminate (the school eventually lifted its policy), the article focuses on a case where Roberts made an intellectual case to limit our country’s federal anti-discrimination laws. He advised the administration not to follow his counsel for political reasons.

The memo obtained by the Sun deals with legislation proposed in the wake of a 1984 Supreme Court ruling that interpreted the federal law against sex discrimination in education, known as Title IX, to apply only to the “specific program” at a particular school that benefited from federal assistance.

Civil rights advocates decried the ruling in Grove City College v. Bell because it threatened to leave the academic and athletic programs at some schools outside the scope of federal gender-equity mandates. Some warned that the court’s rationale could undercut anti-discrimination laws across the board. Some conservatives also criticized the decision. They argued that only schools taking direct aid from the government should be subject to federal civil rights laws. Grove City College had deliberately rejected federal help, but some students had accepted financial aid.

Judge Roberts sided with the conservative critics, at least in theory. “There is a good deal of intuitive appeal to the argument,” he wrote. “Triggering coverage of an institution on the basis of its accepting students who receive federal aid is not too onerous if only the admissions office is covered. If the entire institution is to be covered, it should be on the basis of something more solid than federal aid to the students.”

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding