WASHINGTON – As confirmation hearings draw nearer for Supreme Court nominee John Roberts (search), more groups that were expected all along to oppose him are announcing just that.
On Wednesday, half a dozen liberal activist groups attacked Roberts, saying they now know enough to say that he is too conservative for the Supreme Court.
"John Roberts is no longer a blank slate, he has an extensive record and that record is far outside the mainstream," said Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women and Families, which promotes fairness in the workplace, quality health care and women-friendly work policies.
"The philosophies and positions and principles of the nominee are not just conservative, they are ultra-conservative," said Bruce S. Gordon, president and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
The groups pointed to memos about laws and court cases governing racial and gender discrimination that Roberts wrote while a member of the Reagan administration.
"Our review of the available record has led us to conclude that John G. Roberts Jr. has been hostile to the corpus of civil rights and constitutional law," said Theodore Shaw, president and director-counsel of the NAACP's Legal Defense Fund.
"I think that's just a silly claim. These are groups that are taking extreme positions on the law and labeling anybody who doesn't agree with them down the line as someone who is out of the mainstream," said Roberts supporter and attorney Ronald A. Cass.
Roberts did argue against racial quotas but he also often praised efforts to vigorously enforce anti-discrimination laws and pointed to dozens of suits the Justice Department brought as well-founded.
"We believe these laws are right. We have no intention of seeking to repeal or dilute through non-enforcement any civil rights law that is now on the books," Roberts wrote.
Cass said that even though some try to paint Roberts as extreme, the federal courts often embraced Roberts' arguments. That includes retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (search), who is widely praised by the left as a moderate jurist.
"Sandra Day O'Connor in a number of cases said exactly the same thing that Judge Roberts said. O'Connor is now regarded as the prototypical moderate justice," he said.
Meanwhile, Senate Democrats invited their supporters to submit questions to a Web site for Roberts, and got 40,000 suggestions, including questions such as: "How do you feel about privacy rights for women — including the right to decide when to start a family?"
Questions about abortion rights are sure to be part of the hearings but other suggested questions are less likely. Among them:
"You're on a lifeboat, but it can only hold eight of the original 10 amendments without sinking. Which ones go?"
"What do you think of oligarchies, Mr. Roberts? Do they make you feel all warm and gooey inside?"
Roberts' supporters say the groups who have announced their opposition would oppose any nominee offered by President Bush, and they are simply searching for a reason in which to fit their opposition.
Click in the video box near the top of the story to watch a report by FOX News' Jim Angle.