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John Roberts: The Political Contribution Record.


Some conservatives (here, here, here, here, here and here) are worried that John Roberts will become another David Souter (a consistently liberal vote).

One can understand their concerns, but most of the evidence seems to indicate that Roberts is plenty conservative.

Take Roberts' political contribution record, for example.

Capital Eye explains:

As a partner at the Washington, D.C. law firm of Hogan & Hartson, John G. Roberts contributed $1,000 to George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign. Roberts, who Bush nominated last night to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, has donated to just three other federal candidates—all Republicans—over the years in what amounts to a modest record of campaign giving.

Roberts contributed $500 in 2000 to Republican Sen. Dick Lugar of Indiana, the state where Roberts was raised. Roberts' other donations to federal candidates came in the 1998 cycle, when he sent a total of $1,235 to Republican Peter Fitzgerald, who went on to defeat Sen. Carol Moseley Braun (D-Ill.), and $1,000 to Indiana Senate candidate Peter Rusthoven, who lost in the Republican primary.

The rest of Roberts’ political contributions went to Hogan & Hartson’s political action committee. Over the years, Roberts donated $7,450 to the PAC in amounts ranging from $850 to $1,100 per year, far below the legal limit. Overall, Roberts has made a total of $11,185 in campaign contributions to federal candidates, parties and PACs.

Capital Eye notes that the Hogan & Hartson PAC has leaned toward contributing to Democrats over the years:

Unlike Roberts, Hogan & Hartson is a major campaign donor. The firm has contributed $2.3 million since 1989 in individual, PAC and soft money contributions, 56 percent to Democrats.

However, in 2004, the Hogan and Hartson PAC gave two-thirds to Republicans, and only a third to Democrats; in 2002 it gave 57% to Republicans and 43% to Democrats; in 2000 it gave 64% to Republicans and 36% to Democrats; in 1998, 55% to Republicans, 45% to Democrats.

Jane Roberts, active in Feminists for Life of America, has a relatively short record of political contributions:

Roberts’ wife, Jane, a partner in the law firm of Shaw, Pittman, has made several contributions to the firm’s PAC totaling $3,772. Her lone contribution to a federal candidate was $250 to Fitzgerald in 1998.

Shaw Pittman PAC, in the 2002 cycle, made 56% of its contributions to Republicans, and 44% to Democrats, quite an out-of-the-ordinary ratio for a legal Political Action Committee. In the 2000 campaign cycle, however, her firm's PAC donated 62% to Democrats and 38% to Republicans. In the 2004 campaign cycle, during which Jane Roberts contributed no money, the PAC leaned Republican over Democrat, 62% to 38%.

None of this really proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that John Roberts will be a solid conservative once on the court, and it does not guarantee that he won't drift off steadily to the left (via M.M.) over the years, but it does provide an important glimpse into his political leanings. The only individual candidates to which John Roberts has given campaign contributions are Republicans. The smart money says that at some point during the confirmation process, at least one Democrat will raise Roberts' contribution to the Bush campaign in 2000 as some kind of scandalous, disqualifying revelation. Those of us in the real world will respond with a head bob, a sigh, and a "hmm, that's nice."

This information, together with other Republican affiliations throughout his career, ought to put conservative Republicans somewhat at ease. More importantly, President Bush, unlike his father, is a movement conservative. And unlike President Reagan, Bush has a relatively friendly Senate and a generally conservative national political climate. Thus, given President Bush's famous aptitude for making quality judgments about people, given Bush's campaigning on the issue since the 1990s, and given how important President Bush considers this choice, it is unlikely that President Bush would pick John Roberts if he believed there is even a chance Roberts could drift off to the left after winning confirmation.

Perhaps the most important point to consider about Roberts' contribution record: much like his relatively short paper trail on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, there's not a whole lot to work with in terms of political contributions. But the little we do have to go by indicates that Roberts was a wise pick on the part of the President.

Posted by Will Franklin · 21 July 2005 03:56 PM


Nice research.

Posted by: Giacomo at July 21, 2005 04:49 PM

I hope we don't have another FILLIBUSTER... John Roberts is a great choice! The Liberal Leftist Democrats need to relax! I am sure they will be allowed to continue having their precious abortions! Why do they have such a love affair with abortions? Today we have so many ways to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. The technology shows that the "fetus" is not just a blob or mass of tissue!

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at July 21, 2005 07:54 PM

abortions yummy! Such fools.

Posted by: truthserum at July 21, 2005 10:09 PM

When does confirmation take place?

Posted by: Stan at July 23, 2005 09:01 AM