Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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Pro-choice president assails John Roberts

The president of a major national pro-choice organization slammed Supreme Court chief justice nominee John Roberts at the Wisconsin State Capitol Thursday, stating citizens' fundamental freedoms, reproductive rights and the right to privacy are at stake if Roberts is confirmed.

"A woman's right to choose is at a tipping point," Nancy Keenan, National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League Pro-Choice America president, said. "The Supreme Court is narrowly divided, and by selecting John Roberts to succeed the late Chief Justice Rehnquist, President Bush has raised the stakes."

Keenan blasted Roberts' opinions and called for Wisconsin's U.S. Sens. Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold to vote against Roberts in confirmation proceedings.

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"It is extremely important that the Senate scrutinize any nominee that comes to take the position of chief justice," Keenan said.

Roberts' record "falls short of the standard for being the chief justice," Keenan added, expressing concern as to whether Roberts would uphold the Roe v. Wade decision.

Keenan also demanded Bush release documents regarding Roberts' judicial philosophy.

"The fact is that the record is disturbing and it consistently shows John Roberts' opposition to fundamental freedoms, including our right to choose," Keenan said.

"If the White House continues to stall, it begs the question, what are they hiding?"

NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin Executive Director Kelda Helen Roys said Bush's nomination of Roberts goes against the wishes of people in the state and the United States.

"The majority of Wisconsinites and most Americans, for that matter, are reasonable, hard-working people," Roys said. "We want a government that plows our streets, delivers our mail and ensures our kids get a high-quality public education," Roys said. "But when it comes to personal, private decisions, people want to be left alone — those decisions should be left up to us, not government officials."

Republicans in the state have introduced bills that attempt to block women's access to birth control, intrude on personal decisions and threaten the right to privacy, Roys said.

"If they have their way, pharmacists will be allowed to dispense morality at the pharmacy counter, but withhold birth control," Roys said.

University of Wisconsin student and co-chair of UW Students for Choice Jessica Wartenweiler said the decision to nominate Roberts could threaten the reproductive health of young women across the nation.

"I want a chief justice who is going to stand up for the fundamental freedom of privacy and stop politicians from getting involved in our personal lives," Wartenweiler said.

Wartenweiler also spoke of recent state Legislative decisions regarding student access to certain contraceptives.

"As a University of Wisconsin student, I'm concerned about the attacks on contraception in our state Legislature," Wartenweiler said.

However, Christine Mangi, the communications director for the Republican Party of Wisconsin, said NARAL's aversion to the Roberts nomination is not a shocker.

"They've been sniping at him since he was nominated, so the fact that they're continuing their attacks on him and his nomination for chief justice comes as no surprise," Mangi said.

Mangi defended Roberts' legal career, saying Roberts would be an excellent choice for the Supreme Court seat.

"The Republican Party of Wisconsin supports Bush's nomination of Judge John Roberts; he's one of the most distinguished jurists and attorneys in the country."

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