Roberts vs. Wallenberg

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Roberts vs. Wallenberg

From Forward
In 1984, when Judge John G. Roberts was a young legal adviser to President Ronald Reagan, he was asked to give his view on a matter pertaining to the fate of World War II-era Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg.

Wallenberg, whose efforts saved many Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust, was then thought to be held captive in a Soviet prison. A lawyer retained by Wallenberg's family was arguing that the president, who signed a law conferring honorary citizenship on Wallenberg in 1981, should take steps to secure his release pursuant to an 1868 law regarding citizens captive abroad.

In a memo to Deputy White House Counsel Fred Fielding, Roberts wrote that he recommended a reply to the Wallenberg family's lawyer "essentially dodging the question of the applicability" of the 1868 statute to the famed Swedish diplomat.

"Not only am I convinced that the statute does not apply to Wallenberg, but I am institutionally disposed against adopting a limited reading of a statute conferring power on the President," Roberts wrote. He recommended that Fielding write to the lawyer noting that the honorary citizen law "was intended to be symbolic" and stressing "all that has been done by the President to promote the cause of Wallenberg," such as raising the matter in speeches.

The 21-year-old memo, like thousands of other documents from Roberts's past, is coming under scrutiny as lawmakers and activists pore through the Supreme Court nominee's paper trail for any hints as to how he would rule as a justice. Among those unhappy with what they've seen is the Wallenberg family's lawyer, Morris Wolff.

"It's clear from the reaction recorded in the memo from John Roberts that the White House did everything possible to impede the release of Wallenberg at that time," Wolff told the Forward, calling Roberts's memo "cowardly" and "unprincipled."
Hmmm ... Raoul Wallenberg. Where have I seen that name before?

Oh, that's right - it is the name of the street on which the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is located.

Wallenberg and others saved some 100,000 Jews, but that cannot compare to Roberts' sacred duty to ensure that nothing encroaches upon power of the presidency.

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