Supreme Court Nominee Involved in Playboy Case

Matt O'Conner
WASHINGTON — Conservative lobbying group Public Advocate has withdrawn its support for Supreme Court nominee John Roberts, in part because it has recently come to light that Roberts once worked on behalf of Playboy Entertainment Group.

While a partner at the firm of Hogan and Hartson, Roberts helped prepare Playboy’s lead counsel for a 1999 Supreme Court challenge to the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which required cable TV operators to scramble sexually explicit content and restrict such programming to hours when children were unlikely to view it.

Playboy won the case by a vote of 5-4.

According to a communications industry trade journal, Roberts also represented Playboy in a meeting with the U.S. Solicitor General’s office.

Robert Corn-Revere, lead counsel in the Playboy case, warned against speculation regarding Roberts involvement with the case because he was just doing his job. “He was being a professional, and he was helping out colleagues,” Corn-Revere said.

But some conservatives are now second-guessing President Bush’s decision to nominate Roberts. They say Roberts should have acted on principle and refused to work on behalf of the adult entertainment industry.

“John Roberts was a senior partner [and] did not have to take these cases,” Patrick Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition, said. “If John Roberts volunteered to take these cases, then this is very, very disturbing. It goes to core values. Would there be any cases Judge Roberts wouldn’t take?”

Public Advocate President Eugene Delgaudio said conservatives should be outraged that Roberts has “worked for the political opposition.”

“Do we really think, as conservatives, the stampede toward pornography and gay rights is the right thing?” he asked.