Roberts Memo Urged Laws Prohibiting Busing, Quotas

R. Jeffrey Smith and Charles Babington, Washington Post, Aug. 30

Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr. advised the Reagan administration’s attorney general that “it makes eminent sense” to seek legislation permanently barring the use of employment quotas to redress discrimination and prohibiting the busing of students to foster the integration of schools, according to newly disclosed archival documents.

The March 15, 1982, recommendation to enact administration policy into law came up in a written assessment that year by Roberts and a colleague in the office of then-Attorney General William French Smith of legal issues raised by conservative groups.

Roberts and Caroline Kuhl, who were special assistants to Smith, said the aim of enacting new laws on these two topics was “to guarantee that our policies cannot be easily undone.” They also advised strengthening the practice of mediation—in lieu of litigation—as a way to “abate the influence of the courts,” noting that in addition to the American Bar Association, “certain Christian fundamentalist groups have formed negotiation programs.”

The memo was among several written by Roberts, and released yesterday by the National Archives and Records Administration, that pointed up the nominee’s partisanship in his early jobs at the Justice Department and the White House. The records were released in response to Freedom of Information Act requests by The Washington Post and other organizations.

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Wade Henderson, executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, which has criticized Roberts’s record, called his memo “unconscionable and unacceptable.” Henderson said that “this is just another indication of Roberts’s blatant disregard for protecting our civil rights.”

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