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Linda Chavez’S Press Release Re John Roberts’S “Homemakers” Jibe


As everyone in here knows, yesterday, a number of internal memoranda written by John Roberts when he was a legal adviser in the Reagan White House were released. Many news stories have portrayed the memos as hostile to women’s rights. One memorandum in particular, written in response to a inquiry by Linda Chavez–then Director of Public Liaison at the White House, now President of the Center for Equal Opportunity–has drawn much press attention. In response, Chavez (who I work with) today released this statement:

“John Roberts’s comment in one memorandum that ‘Some might question whether encouraging homemakers to become lawyers contributes to the common good,’ was obviously a joke at the expense of lawyers, not a sexist slam. It is ludicrous to suppose that Mr. Roberts would make a sexist remark to the person who was, after all, then the highest ranking woman on the White House staff–and a working mom to boot.

“Second, and more substantively, it is absurd for reporters to equate rejection of ‘comparable worth’ with opposition to ‘women’s rights,’ as a number of news stories implicitly or explicitly do. The largely discredited concept of comparable worth would ignore the marketplace and require employers to set wages depending on a bureaucratic calculation of a job’s worth. Mr. Roberts was not alone in rejecting such central planning. I opposed it when I was director of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, the Commission itself recommended its rejection, as did the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit–probably the nation’s most liberal–in a decision written by Anthony Kennedy, now a Supreme Court Justice.”