Senate Panel Endorses John Roberts For Supreme Court
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
September 26, 2005
WASHINGTON, DC--Despite concerns from disability, civil, and other rights groups, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 13 to 5 last Thursday to endorse the nomination of Judge John G. Roberts Jr. to be the next Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
ADA Watch founder and president Jim Ward wrote: "With the selection of John Roberts, President Bush is making good on his stated intention to fill a Court vacancy with a nominee in the mold of Scalia or Thomas -- Justices who have consistently ruled against people with disabilities in these and other landmark cases."
"If confirmed, such 5-4 votes would surely go in the other direction and reverse the historic gains of people with disabilities."
Roberts is remembered widely in the disability community as the attorney who successfully defended Toyota Motor Company against a woman with carpal tunnel syndrome in a case before the Supreme Court in 2001.
Williams claimed she developed carpal tunnel syndrome, a painful wrist condition caused by doing certain tasks over and over again, as a paint inspector at a Toyota plant in Kentucky. She sued the company for violating her rights under the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act after it fired her because she turned down a job that included manual labor she was not able to do.
In that case, Roberts argued that Williams was not protected under the ADA because her injuries did not sufficiently limit her life activities.
Last week, Roberts defended his role in the case, telling Senator Russ Feingold that Williams did not fall under the ADA's definition of disability.
"The act contains a definition of disability, and that's what the issue was about," Roberts said. "And that definition does not contain that type of restriction."
Roberts added that the ADA and other civil rights laws "should be interpreted consistent with Congress' intent."
"If you folks here in Congress had a particular, in any statute, a narrow focus, then to give that focus a broader impact I think would be wrong. If you had a broad focus, as, of course, you often do when you're dealing with statutes designed to address discrimination, giving that interpretation a narrow focus would be wrong."
The nomination now goes to the entire Senate for a confirmation vote later this week.
"'Out of the Mainstream' Nominee Poses Threat to Americans with Disabilities" (ADA Watch)
"Feingold Questions Roberts on Toyota v. Williams and Definition of Disability" (Justice For All)
"Sessions and Roberts on Garrett" (Justice For All)
"Toyota v. Williams: What is a disability?" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)