Posted on August 31, 2005

Blacks See Roberts as Racially ‘Secluded’

Brian DeBose, Washington Times, Aug. 31

Some Congressional Black Caucus members and civil rights advocates are concerned about Judge John G. Roberts Jr.’s “secluded” northern Indiana upbringing and want senators to ask the Supreme Court nominee about his history of interactions with minorities.

Asking a nominee about his personal history with minorities is rare in judicial nominations, and there is disagreement even among black leaders on whether those questions are fair and how much weight should be given to the answers.

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Maryland Democrat and a member of the CBC, said the issue of minority social experiences does deserve consideration.

“If the only knowledge you have about African Americans or minorities is what you see on the 6 o’clock news, or television and movies which are not accurate representations, that is a problem,” he said. But, he said, Judge Roberts’ answer should not be a “deal breaker.”

Mr. Cummings said his opinion about personal contact was formed when as a state legislator he called for appointed judges to be elected. He said elections forced candidates to go to minority communities and deal directly with residents whose cases they would rule on.