Thursday, July 21, 2005

Judge Roberts' Faith

In case you have been wondering about the faith practices of President Bush's nominee to the Supreme Court, John G. Roberts, The New York Times has published an extensive profile of the man in today's editions titled "Court Nominee's Life Is Rooted in Faith and Respect for Law" (free registration required). It's interesting, considering the emphasis on the word "faith" in the headline, that the article doesn't touch much on this aspect of Roberts' life until very late in this lengthy piece.

To cut to the chase, here's what The Times has to report on Judge Roberts' faith: . . .

Friends of Judge Roberts and his wife, Jane Sullivan Roberts, a lawyer at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, say they share a strong faith. "They are deeply religious," said Fred F. Fielding, the former White House counsel for President Reagan, "but they don't wear it on their sleeves at all."

The couple are members of the Church of the Little Flower in Bethesda, Md., a Catholic congregation that includes about 1,500 families. Like many Washington-area churches, its members have included prominent political figures. Thomas O'Neill, the former speaker of the House known as Tip, as well as Edmund Muskie, the former United States senator, secretary of state and presidential candidate, once attended, said Gary R. Davies, a church deacon. More recently, L. Paul Bremer III, who served as the United States' administrator in Iraq, was a member.

The church, Mr. Davies said, is not particularly political, though it does organize two or so busloads of members each year to participate in an anti-abortion rally marking the Roe v. Wade decision. "I have never heard anyone talk about politics," Mr. Davies said. "It just does not belong."

Some who know Judge Roberts say he does not let his personal beliefs affect his legal views. "He's not going to allow political or theological interference with his opinions," said Mark Touhey, a partner in the Texas law firm of Vinson & Elkins.

Shannen W. Coffin, a friend of Judge Roberts and a former Justice Department lawyer, said: "John's faith is his faith, and his approach to the law is a separate issue. If it has any effect, it is in the sense of restraint, that he is not and the role of the judge is not to be the center of the universe. It stems from the sort of humility of a faithful person."

The Robertses frequently attend events at the College of the Holy Cross, in Worcester, Mass. Jane Roberts is a graduate of the school and has been a trustee for the last four years.

"They are devout Catholics," said the Rev. Michael C. McFarland, the college president. "They are not the kind of people who would be in your face," he added. Their religion "would affect their personal lives, but they are very professional in their work."

Here's an interesting fact gleaned from the article: Judge Roberts' mother is named Rosemary Roberts. I wonder if that fact will make his nomination any more acceptable to the News & Record 's resident liberal op-ed columnist of the same name.


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