The Corner

Roberts’s Role in Romer

People seem to be making the assumption–I did, when I first glanced at the story–that the fact that the case was pro bono rather than paid makes it more likely that Roberts agreed with the litigants. But that assumption is probably incorrect, isn’t it? He was doing work for his firm. Is it standard practice for lawyers to decline to help on the firm’s pro bono cases when they disagree with the firm’s legal position? I suspect the answer is no, but I imagine lawyers are going to be explaining the answer to us pretty quickly. If the fact that the work was pro bono doesn’t raise any red flag, then Roberts’s involvement in the case seems no more troubling than, say, his work defending Hawaii’s ghastly racial preferences–for which his firm was paid, and in which he was more deeply involved. So if opponents of those preferences don’t hold that against him, as we probably shouldn’t, then opponents of Romer shouldn’t hold it against him either. Or am I wrong here?

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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