Sunday, August 14, 2005

Senate Democrats demand certain Roberts documents


Senate Democrats demand certain Roberts documents

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senate Democrats on Friday again demanded documents from what they said was U.S. Supreme Court nominee John Roberts' most important period of executive service and asked to meet with the attorney general to resolve an impasse over the material.

Preparing for confirmation hearings early next month, Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats wrote another letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales demanding documents from 16 cases Roberts dealt with as deputy solicitor general for President George H.W. Bush. The lawmakers said the material "may particularly illuminate his views on judicial decision-making."

The administration has refused to release that material, saying in a Justice Department letter that they reflected "internal discussions" that "have always been considered privileged."

The White House on Monday is to issue about 5,300 pages from Roberts' work as associate counsel to former President Ronald Reagan, a less senior position.

The White House assured committee members they will receive up to 40,000 pages of additional material by August 22, the deadline sought by Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican.

Democrats have complained that much of the material they have received so far from the career of the conservative jurist was already in the public domain, and that much was from his work before he moved into a higher-level position.

Material from Roberts' work as deputy solicitor general, which the Bush administration has refused to release, "may well be the most relevant for evaluating the Supreme Court nomination," committee Democrats said.

They said those documents would show whether views expressed publicly in administration legal briefs "were also shared by Judge Roberts personally, and to evaluate the progression and consistency of his legal reasoning and analysis throughout his career."

Democrats disputed the White House argument that releasing the material could chill the free flow of internal discourse among administration lawyers.

They said Roberts was a "political appointee in a leadership position, politically responsible for making high-level policy decisions" who should not be afforded the same confidentiality as career staff attorneys.