L.A. Times: Roberts worked on Romer v. Evans
Pro-life groups may be heartened by a Washington Times article today detailing another case of Supreme Court nominee John Roberts upsetting abortion-rights groups.

Weblog earlier noted that pro-life and conservative religious organizations are talking a lot less about Roe v. Wade these days than they are about 1965's Griswold v. Connecticut, which said the right to privacy made anti-contraception laws unconstitutional.

Documents released this week include one case where Roberts discussed Griswold. "All of us, for example, may heartily endorse a 'right to privacy,'" Roberts wrote. "That does not, however, mean that courts should discern such an abstraction in the Constitution, arbitrarily elevate it over other constitutional rights and powers by attaching the label 'fundamental,' and then resort to it as, in the words of one of Justice [Hugo] Black's dissents, 'a loose, flexible, uncontrolled standard for holding laws unconstitutional.'"

The Times quotes Karen Pearl, interim president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, as being "gravely concerned." "The draft article attacks the very bedrock of reproductive freedom," she said.

But so far no pro-family groups have responded to a front-page Los Angeles Times article that notes Roberts's involvement on behalf of gay-rights advocates in the landmark 1996 case Romer v. Evans—a Supreme Court decision widely lamented and criticized by religious conservatives.

Times reporter Richard Serrano writes that Roberts "did not write the legal briefs or argue the case before the high court, but he was instrumental in reviewing filings and preparing oral arguments, according to several lawyers intimately involved in the case. … The lawyer who asked for Roberts's help on the case … said Roberts didn't hesitate. 'He said, Let's do it. And it's illustrative of his open-mindedness, his fair-mindedness. He did a brilliant job.'"

Among the things Roberts did to help was taking the role of "a Scalia-like justice" during a moot court panel to prepare for oral arguments. And indeed, he accurately predicted the questions Scalia would ask, the paper says.

So perhaps conservatives can take heart that Roberts can think like Scalia.

But does he? Serrano says the work doesn't mean that Roberts agrees with the Romer decision:

Roberts's work on behalf of gay-rights activists, whose cause is anathema to many conservatives, appears to illustrate his allegiance to the credo of the legal profession: to zealously represent the interests of the client, whoever it might be. There is no other record of Roberts being involved in gay-rights cases that would suggest his position on such issues. He has stressed, however, that a client's views are not necessarily shared by the lawyer who argues on his or her behalf.
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Of course, that same logic means that you can't read too much into Roberts's writing on Griswold, either, since he did it as a Reagan administration lawyer.

Are Christian groups overconfident in thinking that Roberts agrees with them? Beliefnet's David Kuo, former special assistant to President Bush and deputy director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives thinks so.

"Instead of being given a judge like Edith Jones or Michael McConnell or Janice Rodgers Brown who they know has a set jurisprudence like Scalia or Thomas, they are pinning their hopes on John Roberts in large part because their evangelical president has looked into Roberts' past, his heart, his mind, and his eyes and pronounced him the fulfillment of his promise," Kuo says. "It is a monumental leap of faith for them."

Constitution conundrums

A bit of good news from Iraq. The draft constitution no longer says that Islam is "the major source of legislation." According to The New York Times, the drafting committee went back to the earlier wording, "a main source of legislation."

That's still not enough, religious freedom watchdog Nina Shea writes in two op-ed pieces, one in The Dallas Morning News and another (coauthored with Preeta D. Bansal) in The Washington Post.

But Iraq isn't the only country facing tensions over the role of Islam in its draft constitution. Protestant leaders in Kenya yesterday launched a campaign to torpedo that country's proposed charter, since it enshrined much power in Kadhis' courts. (Kadhis' courts are a system when "all the parties profess the Muslim religion" in suits relating to "questions of Muslim law relating to personal status, marriage, divorce or inheritance." See the U.S. State Department's International Religious Freedom Report on Kenya for more details.) The drafting committee sought to assuage protests by also creating "Christian courts." But the National Council of Churches of Kenya says the constitution would turn Kenya into a religious state and could cause religious strife.

"We would rather stay with the current constitution and review it at a later date than get into a bus that is headed for a crash," the group said. Kenya will vote on the constitution in November.

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More articles

Native American religious freedom:

  • On Indian land, a twist on church vs. state | As US agencies and courts declare sites as holy ground, critics charge the government is establishing religion (The Christian Science Monitor)
  • 9th Circuit sides with Indian prisoner vs. long-hair ban | California prisons' hair policy forced inmate 'to choose between following his religious beliefs and suffering continual punishment,' court holds (Associated Press)

Church & state:

  • Backing up the Boy Scouts | For American Civil Liberties Union lawyers and homosexual rights activists, the scouts have become a surrogate target representing the old-time religion (William Murchison, The Washington Times)
  • Scientology clinic bad medicine: ex-worker | A Scientology-run "detoxification" clinic in Manhattan is endangering patients because of its leaders' strict adherence to the church's teachings, a whistle-blowing former employee has told City Confidential (New York Post)
  • Ambos' prayer deletes Jesus | The NSW Ambulance Service has cut Jesus Christ out of its prayer (The Daily Telegraph, NSW, Australia)
  • The struggle for the Hindu soul | A family squabble, or the beginning of the end for Hindu nationalism? (The Economist)

Religion & politics:

  • The message thing | Until Democrats are willing to be honest about the need for compelling political vision, they will never get the message right (Jim Wallis, The New York Times)
  • Still Colson after all these years | Despite running a multi-million dollar Christ-centered prison reform organization and re-emerging as a political power broker, Charles Colson is forever locked in a fatal embrace with Watergate (Bill Berkowitz, WorkingForChange)
  • In mailing, Falwell urging backers to 'Vote Christian' | As part of a bid to revive his Reagan-era conservative powerhouse, the Rev. Jerry Falwell, Moral Majority leader, is urging Americans to "vote Christian" in 2008 (Forward, Jewish newspaper)
  • We can be wrong even with God on our side | We must first understand the reality of those with whom we differ (Wayne Robinson, The News-Press, Ft. Meyers, Fla.)
  • Lebanon's Christians must manage their decline | When Michel Aoun decided to retreat to the opposition, the act was remarkably, if unintentionally, prescient. Here were the Christians on the threshold of returning to political life, and the general, instead, chose to stay outside the ring. (Michael Young, The Daily Star, Lebanon)

Jews, Christians, & politics:

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  • Church, state, and Maimonides | Noah Feldman's modest proposal to bridge the Evangelical-liberal culture war (The Jewish Week, New York)
  • Time for religious honesty | I believe that evangelical Christians are one of the greatest forces for good in America today—which is not to say I do not harbor some profound reservations that dare not be whitewashed in any Jewish effort to find common political ground with Evangelicals (Shmuley Boteach, The Jerusalem Post)

Opinions on the Supreme Court:

  • Abortion still supported | Despite decades of debate on subject, Pew poll shows majority of Americans endorse it, with restrictions (Newsday)
  • Poll examines Supreme Court priorities | Americans consider Supreme Court decisions about the rights of detained terrorists as important as its rulings on abortion (Associated Press)
  • Survey: Abortion and rights of terror suspects top court issues | Strong support for stem cell research (Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life)

Bill Frist:

  • Frist warns of pandemic future | He speaks on stem cells again at a Unitarian Universalist church (Cape Cod Times, Mass.)
  • Moral maturity | Bill Frist, closet pro-choicer (William Saletan, Slate)
  • Also: Is Frist really pro-choice? | Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's announcement last week that he supports federal funding of new human embryonic stem cell research rattled the conservative wing of the Republican Party. Is Frist really a pro-choice politician in disguise? (Day to Day, NPR)
  • Silliness on stem cells | Scalding criticism directed by some conservatives at Sen. Bill Frist concerning his slightly revised position regarding federal funding of embryonic stem cell research is symptomatic of the casual cynicism that nowadays passes for political realism (George F. Will, The Washington Post)
  • Let's all hug Bill Frist | It's lonely going against your own team. Frist's switch took courage. It could save lives (Margaret Carlson, Los Angeles Times)
  • Shift brings new hope | Respect for life should dictate removal of barriers to potential life-saving research, particularly when the material involved does not resemble life as most people think of it (Editorial, USA Today)
  • Bill should die by veto | Liberalizing President Bush's stem cell policy would be both unethical and unnecessary (Tom Coburn, USA Today)

Life ethics:

  • Florida Legislature may consider embryonic stem cell research | Under a bill the Legislature could take up next year, Florida would promote and provide money for medical research using embryonic stem cells that would otherwise be discarded (Associated Press)
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  • Born early, infant is fine | The Rev. Paul Scalia baptized the child and performed the Last Rites for the mother (The Washington Times)
  • Cloned dog raises ethical questions of its science | 1,095 reconstructed embryos were transferred into 123 surrogates to create two living dogs (Reuters)
  • Move to expand fetal protections weakens | The Oregon House rejects a change to a bill that would apply the death penalty for killing pregnant women (The Oregonian)
  • Discovery of stored fetuses and stillborns roils France | French health authorities have found the remains of 351 stillborn infants and fetuses that were stored illegally in the morgue of a prominent children's hospital (The New York Times)


  • City to appeal decision on school zone protests | The city of Waco plans to again appeal the dismissal of charges against 17 anti-abortion protestors who violated a city ordinance on demonstrating in school zones (Waco Tribune-Herald, Tex.)
  • Who's the extremist on Roe vs. Wade? | If the court were junk Roe, it would merely let the electorate put its conflicting feelings about abortion into law in a way citizens can live with. Allowing the American people to have their way on a subject that is not mentioned in the Constitution is not extremism. It's democracy (Steve Chapman, Chicago Tribune)

Morning-after pill:

  • Emergency contraception and the pregnancy debate | The Food and Drug Administration has until the end of this month to decide whether to allow emergency contraception -- the so-called morning after pill -- to be sold without a prescription. Critics of the medication say it causes very early abortions, although the Food and Drug Administration classifies it as a contraceptive that prevents pregnancy (Morning Edition, NPR)
  • Needed: A pill for pandering | It has become clear that a viable Republican presidential candidate must oppose abortion, stem cell research, the morning-after pill, gay marriage and, for good measure, evolution. It's a kind of loyalty oath to ignorance, to see virtually every issue through a religious prism (Richard Cohen, The Washington Post)

Intelligent Design & evolution:

  • Evolution and Intelligent Design | Recent comments by President Bush have raised new questions about what should taught in public school science classes (The Diane Rehn Show, NPR)
  • Buttars may push 'intelligent design' | State Senator ill meet with education officials next week to inquire about discussions of evolution and humans in public schools (Deseret Morning News, Ut.)
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  • Catholic schools stay out of evolution fray | The theory will still be taught in Catholic schools - despite a prominent cardinal's writings (The Philadelphia Inquirer)
  • But is it intelligent? | To pretend that the existence of evolution is somehow still an open question, or that it is one of several equally valid theories, is to misunderstand the intellectual and scientific history of the past century (Editorial, The Washington Post)
  • Unintelligent | The best educational use of intelligent design would be to expose students to a good example of what science is not (Editorial, The Boston Globe)
  • For devolution | Whatever the outcome of the debate over evolution, it should be conducted at the local level (Editorial, National Review)


  • Revelations high | Reading, writing, and Revelations—such is the fare some Texas public high school students are receiving, and the Texas Freedom Network doesn't like it one bit (Austin Chronicle)
  • Preaching or teaching? | High school elective on the Bible raises concern (Hardball, MSNBC)
  • Major Baptist figure headed back to Baylor | Joel Gregory, the clergyman whose misadventures in a Dallas mega-church were immortalized in the 1999 play God's Man in Texas, is set to become seminary dean Paul W. Powell's man in Waco (Waco Tribune-Herald, Tex.)

Church life:

  • African-American churches weigh gospel debate | The rise of "mega-churches" in the African-American community has helped draw people back to religion. But some traditional black pastors find the growth of these churches worrisome, saying their leaders focus on messages of personal prosperity and are neglecting the civil rights struggle (All Things Considered, NPR)
  • Lutherans consider gay issue with unique approach that omits discipline | ELCA meets next week (Religion News Service)
  • Many fret over fate of furnishings in closed church | The closing of St. Peter's Episcopal Church has sparked anxiety among former parishioners, preservationists, and members of the art world, all of whom are concerned about the fate of the buildings and of the art and furnishings housed there (The Philadelphia Inquirer)
  • These ads are just divine | UCC promises edgy followup to bouncer ad (Boston Herald)
  • Hundreds of Christians to gather for rural retreat | Hundreds of Christians will gather for seven evenings of song, worship and barbecue as the 66th annual Cowboy Camp Meeting kicks off Sunday in Kerr County (San Antonio Express-News, Tex.)
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  • African priest leads Latino church | Ntege, of Uganda, taught himself Spanish in college (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)
  • Retired pastor admits 'moral failure' | David Seamands says he's accused of sexual misconduct (Lexington Herald-Leader, Ky.)
  • Makes him want to holler | Eugene Rivers is sparking a revolution to get black churches back on track (Stanley Crouch, New York Daily News)


  • Pope gives special greeting to Chinese | Pope Benedict XVI greeted a group of priests from China "with particular affection" Wednesday, the first time a pontiff has publicly welcomed members of the state-controlled church in the latest sign of warming relations between the Vatican and Beijing (Associated Press)
  • The pope and a puzzling African king | Who is on Benedict XVI's new coat of arms? (Alex Beam, The Boston Globe)
  • Pope Benedict's first 100 days | Pope Benedict XVI completes the first 100 days of his papacy. The pontiff, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany, was inaugurated April 24. Are any trends developing? (Day to Day, NPR)
  • Danvers may tax a closed church | After Scituate, archdiocese faces a possible trend (The Boston Globe)
  • Catholic Church faulted on cemeteries | State cites lack of separate fund (The Boston Globe)


  • Grand jury: No clergy abuse charges | The grand jury investigating sex abuse in the Philadelphia Archdiocese has prepared a report that documents decades of assaults on children by more than 50 priests - but calls for no new criminal charges (The Philadelphia Inquirer)
  • Grand jury report on predator priests and those who have survived abuse | Why are there no criminal charges? (Editorial, The Philadelphia Inquirer)
  • Lawmaker pushes to end statute of limitations in sex abuse of minors | State Senator Steven A. Baddour and 10 Merrimac Valley residents launched an effort yesterday for a 2006 ballot referendum (The Boston Globe)
  • A higher law | Catholic authorities must go beyond legalities. Cardinal Mahony hasn't gotten the message (Editorial, Los Angeles Times)


  • Pair abducts nun from convent in southeast | Injuries were minor in baffling incident (The Washington Post)
  • Also: Nun safe after apparent abduction (Associated Press)
  • Swastikas sprayed on churches | Vandals have sprayed three Indianapolis-area churches with swastikas and other graffiti over the past month, police said (Associated Press)
  • Call for prayers to convert Van Gogh killer to Christ | Evangelical broadcaster EO is backing a call for prayer to convert Mohammed B., the man who killed filmmaker Theo van Gogh, from Islam to Christianity (Expatica, Netherlands)
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  • Hitch hits Kaiser death probe | Two senior police officers scheduled to testify did not turn up (The Nation, Kenya)
  • Pastors in N25m bank robbery | Two Pastors, both ex-convicts who enjoyed presidential pardon in 2003, yesterday stunned members of their churches when they confessed their roles in robbing an Akure, Ondo State-branch of a new generation bank of N25 million ($185,000) (Daily Champion, Lagos, Nigeria)

Prison rape:

  • Report documents sexual violence in prisons | The Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 mandated that the government start tracking sexual abuse within the prison system. The first report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics says the government substantiated nearly 2,100 incidents of sexual violence in 2004 (Morning Edition, NPR)
  • Report: Sexual violence reported by correctional authorities, 2004 (Bureau of Justice Statistics)
  • Government prisoner rape report findings represent the tip of the iceberg (Press release, Stop Prisoner Rape)

Same-sex marriage:

  • Court tosses Cherokee gay-marriage case | A Cherokee Nation court has dismissed a lawsuit seeking to prevent the tribe from giving its legal blessing to a lesbian couple's marriage (Associated Press)
  • Loophole threat to first gay weddings | Campaigners fear framing of law will allow 'conscientious objector' registrars and local authorities to boycott civil partnership ceremonies (The Guardian, London)
  • Same-sex unions and the Catholic Church | The Catholic Church needs to find spiritual and human value in the marital unions of homosexual people, but it cannot accept these unions on the same sacramental footing as heterosexual marriage anytime soon. (Richard Griffin, Cambridge Chronicle, Mass.)

Marriage & family:

  • Rick Santorum, 'It Takes a Family' | Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) is one of the party's strongest and most conservative voices. He talks about his new book, It Takes a Family, where he discusses the politics of intelligent design, and what he'd like to hear from Supreme Court nominee John Roberts (Morning Edition, NPR)
  • The rules of the club | Let churches, mosques, synagogues and other private institutions define marriage; the state could provide simply a recognition of these partnerships, which it needn't call marriages (Editorial, Los Angeles Times)


  • Museveni hosts gospel singer | President Yoweri Museveni and his wife Janet on Sunday hosted guests at their Rwakitura home in Mbarara district, to a concert by Steven Curtis Chapman and the Watoto Children's Choir of Kampala Pentecostal Church (New Vision, Uganda)
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  • Soulful praise | CeCe Winans' R&B songs with message headline Gospel Fest at Lock 3 Live Saturday (Akron Beacon Journal, Oh.)

Christian videogames:

  • Christians code heavenly games | Fledgling companies from around the globe showed off new titles focusing on morality and stories from the Old and New Testaments aimed at pre-kindergarten to young adults at the Christian Game Developers Conference (Wired News)
  • God games seek souls, not profit | While most game developers are motivated by the glory of creating a hit and focused on chasing the almighty dollar, the programmers who gathered at the Christian Game Developers Conference want to bring glory to the Almighty (Wired News)


  • Sprinkling holy water on 'The Da Vinci Code' | When filmmakers asked how to make the movie version of "The Da Vinci Code" palatable to devout moviegoers, they were advised to fudge the central premise (The New York Times)
  • Protestantism detailed in encyclopedia | Revealing facts and stories fill new resource (Associated Press)
  • Can you love your neighbor if you hate yourself? | The ability to love ourselves is the foundation of loving others and God (Brennan Manning, Beliefnet)

Money & business:

  • Verily, I sell unto you | Increasing numbers of evangelical business owners are hanging out their shingles with the word "Christian" prominently displayed. Are they bringing godliness to Main Street -- or making hay on holiness? (Lynn Harris, Salon.com)
  • Have Bible, will travel | Businesses finding chaplains useful hires (The Washington Examiner)

Podcast sermons:

  • Now playing on MP3: iSermons | A few pioneering houses of worship are spreading the word from the pulpit to the iPod. Members of the congregation can download Sunday's service and listen to it anytime during the week (All Things Considered, NPR)
  • Vicar stunned by sermon surfers | iTunes response overwhelming (BBC)

More articles of interest:

  • BBC 'sideline God' on radio | A senior Church of Scotland figure yesterday accused BBC Radio Scotland of "sidelining God" by moving its daily religious slot to a time when few people are awake to hear it. The Rev Douglas Aitken criticised the station's decision to move "Thought for the Day" from 7.25am to 6.50am (The Times, London)
  • Religion news in brief | Religious leaders split on Frist decision, Jewish leaders condemn Disciples of Christ vote, Archbishop Levada deposition postponed, and other stories (Associated Press)

Related Elsewhere:

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Launched in 1999, Christianity Today’s Weblog was not just one of the first religion-oriented weblogs, but one of the first published by a media organization. (Hence its rather bland title.) Mostly compiled by then-online editor Ted Olsen, Weblog rounded up religion news and opinion pieces from publications around the world. As Christianity Today’s website grew, it launched other blogs. Olsen took on management responsibilities, and the Weblog feature as such was mothballed. But CT’s efforts to round up important news and opinion from around the web continues, especially on our Gleanings feature.
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