Boycott Watch
August 23, 2005
Boycott Watch review of documents related to the
nomination of John Roberts to the US Supreme Court
Box 11 - Conflicts of Interest
   As a direct result of the John G. Roberts nomination to the US Supreme Court, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library has released boxes of documents containing the writings of Mr. Roberts. Radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt has undertaken a project to review the contents of the documents to discover if anything significant will be revealed.. To accomplish this, Mr. Hewitt as has asked internet bloggers to assist by reviewing the content of the boxes. While Boycott Watch does not specifically classify itself as a blog, we do investigate reports of consumer actions in the search for truth and we then publish our results in a non-partisan manner. Some may consider it a blog, but that is for you to decide. As such, Boycott Watch fulfills the goals of the document review request and we asked to be a part of the project.

   Boycott Watch was assigned box 11, titled "Box 11 - JGR/Conflicts Of Interest (2) - Roberts, John G.: Files SERIES I: " Subject File and our summary follows.

   In this document, Mr. Roberts discusses the results of the new Ethics in Government law five months after it was enacted, and reviews it in light of major ethical dilemmas such as Watergate, with consideration of the governments' ability to try and hire people who have perfect ethical backgrounds. The documents in this collection include presentation notes, a memorandum Mr. Roberts revised regarding ethics with an associated memorandum from the US Office on Government Ethics, and a magazine article. This collection does not contain any detailed opinions by Mr. Roberts, but his views on privacy are apparent. The lecture outlines contain verbiage that can be taken out of context and used against Mr. Roberts, just as the recently discredited NARAL advertisement was, thus it should be noted in case it is mentioned by partisan groups.

   One such item that may cause concern is on page 3 of the initial lecture notes. Mr. Roberts states there are "not enough priests and nuns with experience to staff (the) DOE" (Department of Energy). This is significant because by separating this line from the rest of the note, some extremists may claim or conclude that Mr. Roberts is against the separation of church and state because he wants to bring the clergy into government. That is not, however, what Mr. Roberts was saying. Mr. Roberts was merely stating that there is a problem finding people who have an absolutely pure background to fill positions in government, and used priests and nuns as hyperbole.

   Mr. Roberts also advocated bringing civilians into government positions to provide a fresh and real world perspective. But with that, Mr. Roberts also questioned how much disclosure was actually necessary by the applicants. Mr. Roberts asked, "Is it necessary to know $100,000 in stocks unrelated to (the) job - Enough over set amount?" Mr. Roberts also asked, "Where is (the) balance? (What is the) line between public need and public voyeurism (?)" Mr. Roberts did not propose any specific boundary but he did pose the question of where such a line should be drawn. In essence, Mr. Roberts advocated privacy, an issue that he would surely face as a Supreme Court Justice.

   In a lecture to the White House Fellowship Commission, Mr. Roberts upheld his stance stating, "In short, (the) operating principal (is) not Honesty is Best Policy so much as Caesar's Appointees Must Be Above Suspicion." That statement too may be taken out of context by some and is also clearly understood in the context of the lecture notes. Mr. Roberts once again affirmed he believes that being above suspicion is acceptable and that one does not need to disclose every personal detail to the public in order to accept a government job.

   While the topic of this collection of documents is Conflicts Of Interest, Mr. Roberts discussed the topic in relation to government hiring practices. He questioned if the new ethics laws precluded people from accepting government positions despite the fact that they were the best person for the job.

   Mr. Roberts framed his ethics review in respect to the governments ability to be able to hire people with the question with privacy in mind, and by his writing, Mr. Roberts is clearly an advocate of privacy.
Additional reports may be found at the website and specifically.

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