Jack Roberts on Jack Roberts

Jack robertsOver at Gullyborg, a right-wing Oregon blog, putative Oregon Supreme Court candidate Jack Roberts gives a long interview about his views. It's long, but here's a few key snippets:

On Oregon Right to Life: "I’ve always had a good relationship with them because I’ve always respected their goals and understand their position"

On blogs: "Recently, to keep up with the other side, I’ve been reading Blue Oregon."

On free speech: "I think that we have to be able to formulate a rule of law that most people in this state can understand and accept, and I don’t think we’re there as it relates to free speech… People understand that we have broader protection here and they wanted that. But I still think you ought to have a rule that is understandable and can be communicated to people, and I don’t think the current rule that we have makes sense."

On the court: "Gullyborg: In one sentence, why does the Supreme Court of Oregon need Jack Roberts? Jack: To bring common sense back to the court. Gullyborg: Are you saying there isn't any common sense on the court? Jack: Let’s just say they can always use more."

On Gene Hallman, who is also running: "He is certainly respected and well-qualified."

On himself: "I don’t have any judicial experience."


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    In political life I understand the omnipresent risk of being quoted out of context, but every once in awhile its fun to look at what someone really said. For example, in answer to the question about who has encouraged me to run for the Supreme Court, I answered as follows:

    "There is a lot of encouragement from a broad range of folks, not just Republicans. This is not a partisan thing. There are people from the medical community, the business community, natural resources community, Crime Victims United, that was one of the groups that contacted me because they are concerned about where the court is on some of their issues, even people like Right to Life, even though I’m pro-choice. I’ve always had a good relationship with them because I’ve always respected their goals and understand their position—they don’t feel like they’ve gotten that from the court."

    It seems to me this is substantially different from the excerpt quoted above. Which perhaps expains why I said I read BlueOregon to keep track of the other side.

  • I'm Pro-Choice and I Vote (unverified)

    I don't respect Right to Life's goals and I don't understand their position.

    I won't be voting for you, even if you do claim to be pro-choice.

  • no one in particular (unverified)

    I don't understand their position.

    Really? Is it really that hard? Basically their position is that every fetus has a soul and therefore killing that fetus without reason is equivalent to murder. Their outrage, then, makes sense... to them it is little different than if you or I were advocating killing old people and homeless people because they aren't "useful" anymore.

    I'm athiest, pro-choice, don't like kids, and have even offended other pro-choice people with my love of abortions (seriously, I wish we had lots and lots more of them).

    But even I can understand their position. Are you even trying?

  • keyfur (unverified)

    the post says On himself: "I don’t have any judicial experience." he sounds like bush's perfect candidate for the us supreme court!

  • woman as secondary? (unverified)

    Sure I can understand the position of Right to Life. It is that at the moment of conception, the woman's life is secondary and at the moment of conception "the unborn" becomes the primary consideration. As I recall, Sen. Hatfield was anti-abortion but did not believe the government should declare that life begins at conception because that is a religious decision.

    Isn't that why RTL folks oppose any measure with an exception for the "life and health" of the mother--that they believe every child should be born but after birth is someone else's responsibility?

    To the best of my knowledge most of those in RTL have been silent on the question of whether rape is a crime, and whether a pregnancy caused by a rape must be carried to term because a rape victim does not deserve the right to make the sorts of medical decisions any other crime victim deserves. I still recall a faceoff at a televised debate years ago (KATU Town Hall?) where someone from an anti-abortion ballot measure was questioned by someone from a crime victims ballot measure on whether rape victims deserved every right given to all other crime victims. The anti-abortion person didn't really answer the question.

    The anti-abortion point of view is valid from someone like Hubert Humphrey who spent his life on hunger and poverty issues. He is quoted as saying that a truly pro-life person is against abortion, capital punishment, nuclear war, and using food as a weapon of foreign policy.

    But he was a cheerful positive person, and RTL often seems more interested in nasty ads and vindictive language toward opponents than in actually solving the problems of mothers and children.

    All that said, I would like to know Jack Roberts' definition of "common sense", where he stands on such things as the single subject rule and the protection of contract law for public employees.

    Also, which current or former state supreme court justices he admires. That question about the US Supreme Court was put to Judge (now Chief Justice) Roberts with a very interesting result.

  • CLP (unverified)

    no one in particular: Right on. Jack Roberts is familiar with the viewpoints of his opponents. We need to be familiar with the viewpoints of ours.

  • theanalyst (unverified)

    "It is that at the moment of conception, the woman's life is secondary and at the moment of conception "the unborn" becomes the primary consideration."

    Well, yes and no. In other words, some anti-abortion views depend on the idea that the fetus is a "person." Other anti-abortion views do not depend on that.

    In my experience, RTL thinking also can have two other components. The first is the "slippery slope," which is that allowing abortion has the effect of cheapening human life, and it thus eventually leads to other practices such as infanticide and euthanasia. Similar to this, the second component is that abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, and physician-assisted suicide are all part of the "culture of death," all originate in the same kind of thinking, and all lead to the same end. Many of the people who hold this view are social and political conservatives who do not include the death penalty and warfare as part of the "culture of death." Those who do include it tend to be in the Catholic tradition.

    This was why the Schiavo case was so huge in the RTL community. For them Schiavo was emblematic of everything that is wrong and evil about the "culture of death."

    Concerning abortion in cases of rape or to save the life of the mother, many pro-life people are not necessarily opposed to that, but they point out that these situations constitute a very tiny fraction of the total number of abortions, and that most abortions are done for the convenience of the mother. Of course, in the more radical versions of RTL thinking no abortions whatsoever should be permitted.

    I think it's important to understand the varieties of RTL thinking, because there are significant differences in the approaches to the issues. Some RTL folks are people of great sensitivity and compassion, and others are fascists who simply want to control everyone else's life. It's not an easy movement to generalize about. I personally am not RTL, but I think we need to listen to them and understand and consider their concerns.

  • Jeff Merrick (unverified)

    Jack's got a problem: he is not qualified to be an Oregon Supreme Court Justice. ORS 2.020 requires that a person be legally able to argue a case before the Supreme Court before s/he can serve a justice, which makes sense. Jack has not been qualified to pracitce law since 1996.

    I understand he has applied to reactivate his license.

    By contrast, Mr. Hallman has handled over 130 appeals, over 30 to the Oregon Supreme Court. He has tried over 300 cases.

    The Supreme Court should not be about lawmaking and promoting your public policy views. The justices are there to make the system of justice work. One needs to be involved in the system to fully understand it.

    Jeff Merrick [email protected]

  • Ed Bickford (unverified)

    Mr. Robert's comment is most telling at the end, where he admits his business here on blueoregon is with "the other side" whatever claim he makes to being pro-choice. What does that claim mean if he has "always respected their [ORTL's] goals"? They would enshrine their religious dogma of fetal personhood in the rolls of the law of the land! That goal gets no respect from anyone who values personal freedom, much less from anyone genuinely pro-choice.

    Mr. Robert's comment is not "substantially different from the excerpt quoted above."

  • Ed Bickford (unverified)

    Pardon me, but the paean to RTL "sensitivity and compassion" from 'theanalyst' deserves comment also.

    Whether it is their dogma or their "great sensitivity and compassion" that leads them to their moral judgement, they must be apprised of their grave error in attempting to lend it the force of law. What consideration does that deserve?

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    Stepping out on a limb here. I don't know Mr. Roberts, but his record seems to put him in the company of the old style Oregon Republicans like Paulus, Hatfield, McCall, etcetera.

    We on the Blue side should be thankful that the last couple of Republican primaries have devolved into contests to see who could be the most punative father figure.......and it came down to Mannix.

    Roberts seems to be the real deal moderate Republican and he might make a damned fine justice.


    Mr. Roberts' statement that he "understands" the right to life position puts him in good company state wide. Many of us are a tiny bit queasy about third trimester abortions. (I know. They are very rare.)

    This question will be revisited again and again as science provides more clarity on when a fetus becomes "aware" or begins to feel pain. Only people whose positions are "faith based" left or right are secure in their dogma.

  • I'm Pro-Choice and I Vote (unverified)

    To 'no one in particular': Don't be daft. Sure, I understand their goals - but I don't understand them.

    Oregon Right to Life wants to take away the right of women to self-determine their reproductive future. That's just immoral and evil.

    Jack clearly likes the pose of being the "pro-choice Republican". Sometimes, it suckers otherwise good Democrats into supporting him (see above) - but if he "understands" and "respects" their goals then he "understands" and "respects" taking away the rights of women.

    I won't be voting for him.

  • theanalyst (unverified)

    Ed writes: "Whether it is their dogma or their "great sensitivity and compassion" that leads them to their moral judgement, they must be apprised of their grave error in attempting to lend it the force of law."

    How is that an error? We write morality into the law all the time. That's what anti-discrimination laws are all about. Even ordinary criminal laws are in essence laws that arise from morality.

    So I don't think we can criticize RTL on the basis that they are trying to give their moral viewpoint the force of law. The problem is that they are trying to write their moral views into law on an issue in which there is no moral concensus -- on an issue in which perhaps a majority even hold a contrary opinion.

  • I neither pro or anti choice and I vote too (unverified)

    what is it about abortion that blind-sides people (either for or against) into such a single issue focus? Roberts' problem is that he is a rare pro-choice candidate in his party. The only thing rarer than a pro-choice Republican is a pro-life Democrat.

    I'm always amazed that people can be so narrow-minded, or single-minded, as to vote for or against a candidate based on their stand on this, or any one political issue.

    Personally, I also like to vote for the following types of people:

    Pro-environment Republicans Democrats willing to stand up to unions Republicans willing to stand up to the NRA Fiscally conservative Democrats

    Why, because these types of people usually show me that they are willing to stand up to the status-quo or the party line.

    That is what made Tom McCall such a great governor. And Hubert Humphrey such a great senator.

    As you might imagine, voting is much more of a struggle for me as an independent than it is for most of you BlueOregon regulars. My candidates are a lot harder to find than yours.

  • I'm Pro-Choice and I Vote (unverified)

    Q: what is it about abortion that blind-sides people (either for or against) into such a single issue focus?

    A: from the pro-choice side, because it's about basic self-determination. we can argue about minimum wage, capital gains taxes, school funding, and all that stuff is about balancing interests. Abortion is about having the right to do with your body and your future what you want to do with it.

    On the other side, they believe its about murder, so no surprise that they're so upset.

    Jack Roberts wants to have it both ways, which proves that he doesn't have the critical thinking skills to be a supreme court justice.

  • PanchoPdx (unverified)

    "Jack Roberts wants to have it both ways, which proves that he doesn't have the critical thinking skills to be a supreme court justice."

    Although I'm rarely an apologist for Jack Roberts, I can't let this one rest.

    The post by "I'm pro-choice and I vote" demonstrates a lack of "critical thinking skills" for the basic responsibilities of a voter for the position of supreme court justice.

    Jack simply pointed out that people who he has opposed politically (like RTL) recognize that he can be trusted to be fair and objective (such as when drafting a ballot summary statement for a measure he doesn't support).

    This is exactly what voters should want from a candidate for supreme court justice, someone who can leave his personal politics aside and render a fair judgment.

  • Neither pro-choice nor pro-life and I vote too (unverified)

    ahh yes, but when it comes down to it, I think she wants people on the court for their political views rather than their ability to judge the law. That was the difficult part for the Democrats in the Roberts hearing. They kept wanting to hear his POLITICAL views and all he rightly gave them was his LEGAL views. So many people today can't differentiate between them.

    I agree, we do want Supreme Court members who can put the politics aside. So voting for or against them based on their political view of a single issue (no matter what it is)it exactly what people shouldn't do. If we did, we would end up with a political court instead of a legal one.

    If someone can't understand that abortion is not just a legal issue, but a political and moral one as well, they are merely fooling themselves, not anyone else.

  • Ed Bickford (unverified)

    I suspect 'theanalyst' is just playing rhetorical games. In speaking of "moral judgements" one would be connoting something more than the minimal moral capability to recognize the injustice of discriminatory or outright criminal acts. They are judgements that easily qualify for the force of law. It's not just that "there is no moral consensus" but that that kind of judgement, based on philosophical rumination, has no place in the code of law.

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)

    A couple thoughts -

    It's odd how this conversation about Jack Roberts devolved to an abortion debate.

    It's odder still that no one has pointed out the philosophical holes that are inherent in two Republican positions here -

    First, Jack Roberts wants to be an activist judge. I thought Republicans were against using the courts to make or change laws. I thought our government was set up to have the legislative chambers be the debating side of government. So, to be consistent in their views, all Republicans MUST vote against Roberts.

    Second, Republicans say they are for smaller and limited government. Yet, they are not at all consistent on this. Abortion is the perfect example of this. One who believes in smaller and limited government would take the stance that any individual can attempt through persausion (free speech) to limit abortion, but to create laws that enter into the private space of one's home life/medical life crosses that line. The so called pro-life or anti-abortion view then is one of big goverment that enters deeply into the most private parts of our lives. When asked if government should know what goes on in our bedrooms - nearly all people will say a resounding "no". Same with what we talk about with medical people.

    And it is in this last point that I appreciate what Jack Roberts has said: He appreciates the RTL view that abortion is wrong (e.g. exercise of free speech), but disagrees with their goals (e.g. law changes) - which would be consistent with a proper Republican philosophy as I stated above.

    (Now if I'm wrong about Jack's position, and we know he is lurking out there reading this, I expect he'll set me straight!)

    Nonetheless, I don't want a Republican Activist judge, even one as Pat Ryan has pointed out from the "old school" of Republicans. I'd rather vote for the qualified candidate that puts his/her views to the side, and practices Law on the court.

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    Steve, IF I run for the Supreme Court (and that's still an if), I certainly don't intend to run to become an activist judge. My whole point in bringing up Right to Life, and some of the other groups, in that interview was to demonstrate that people who know me and have worked with me have confidence that I will interpret and apply the law fairly, and will not try to use a position on the court to bend the law in the direction of my preferences.

    At the same time, I think there are legitimate issues from a legal standpoint about how the law has been interpreted and applied in the past and how it should be interpreted and applied in the future. I think that is fair game in a judicial election. If you want people to put you on the supreme court, I think its fair for them to expect you to give them some idea how you think and how you'll approach your job.

    I think the race also deserves some discussion as to why the job of state supreme court justice is different from being a judge on the court of appeals or a circuit court judge, or being a practiding lawyer, as well as a discussion of the other kinds of life experiences that might bring a different, and even broader, perspective to the bench.

    If I decide to run, I expect to address those issues.

  • theanalyst (unverified)

    Ed writes: "I suspect 'theanalyst' is just playing rhetorical games."

    No, not at all.

    Ed: "It's not just that "there is no moral consensus" but that that kind of judgement [anti-abortion], based on philosophical rumination, has no place in the code of law."

    Let me first reaffirm that I am not RTL; I disagree with most of their positions. My point is that a restriction on abortion does in fact have legitimate place in the code of law, and that in fact it is currently thus restricted.

    In Roe V. Wade itself the decision defines the conditions under which abortions can be performed, based on the trimester of the pregnancy. If abortion can be legitimately restricted in the code of law in the second and third trimesters, then surely it could be legitimately restricted in the code of law in the first trimester as well -- Supreme Court decision permitting.

    I'm not saying it should be, only that one could legitimately argue that it should be. That's a valid distinction, not a rhetorical ploy.

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    Jack, thanks for mixing it up here with us BlueOregonians... It's a new kind of politics we're getting ourselves into.

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    It sure is, Kari. One of the good things about not being an official candidate (not yet, at least) and therefore not having a real campaign is that there is no one to yell at me, "You can't be doing that! Stay off the internet! Change your cell phone number! Quit being so accessible! We have to control your message!"

    It reminds me of some of the things I don't miss about campaigning.

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    Jack, I'm sure that there is a downside to the unmanaged candidate, but I wonder--in the age of the blog, when voters think of candidates as hopelessly overmanaged, might this kind of exchange not provide a candidate with a counterbalancing advantage? I'd like to think that the more contact candidates and politicians have with the public, the better the leadership and, ultimately, government.

    But I'm a wild-eyed optimist.

  • Jeff Merrick (unverified)

    Pat Ryan longs for the day when the Republican Party had good people in it. I came to Oregon as a Dave Frohnmayer Republican in the mid-1980s, but soon learned that there was no room in the Republican party for brilliant and thoughtful people like our former Attorney General and current U of O President. Instead, I learned that the Republican Party was simply a right-to-life organization, and quit the party.

    Remember, the Oregon Supreme Court is a nonpartisan position. If one wants to reform the Republican Party, then support moderates in partisan primaries. In the meantime, let's save the Oregon Supreme Court positions for really smart people who have devoted their lives to the law, not a moderate and mediocre Republican looking for a new occupation to amuse himself.

    Jeff Merrick [email protected]

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    As I mentioned, I don't know Mr. Roberts but I've had the chance to watch him in the public arena over the years.

    I know absolutely nothing about Hallman. I look forward to additional information on both candidates going forward. I hope that you and other supporters will provide this for us.

  • Trens (unverified)

    Jack Roberts took advantage of the coincidence of his name (Roberts) to run against and defeat Mary Wendy Roberts, an accomplished Democrat, the first woman of our party to be elected statewide who had years of service in the House and Senate as well as 16 years as Labor Commissioner. Then, as Labor Commissioner, he opposed increasing the minimum wage, reduced oversight on child labor,and advocated abolishing the office as one to be elected by the people, failing that, he pushed successfully to have it made "nonpartisan" so that an office,which had been held by Democrats for over 25 years is now less visible and more accessible to Republicans office holders or . NOw it is no longer a Democratic office. He is still a Republican in "Roberts" clothing (not like a Betty, a Barbara, a Frank or a Mary Wendy who all were known for their liberal and crusading stands..pioneers all). Yeah unhampered by a party label or affiliation, we now have yet another statewide office which requires raising more money not a party standard! Jack Roberts also is known as the guy who rarely showed up for work at the Portland office (the operational center..where all the top Bureau of Labor staff were and the Labor Commissioner office was all but cobwebbed) but maintained his residence in Eugene and used his time to mainly politic and run for other offices (Gov as a Republican.US Senator as a Republican). I agree with Jeff in that this nonleader Republican just laziliy and cavalierly pursues his own interests and that self promotion seems to be his motivation for his opining, his deals,and his seeking of platforms or office rather than dedication to the public interest or anything I can find in the way of committment to issues.

    He is slick and loves to write opinion pieces and self promote but he is not known as a hardworker,

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