"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." Theodore Roosevelt
After a 1980 Supreme Court decision, Mobile v. Bolden, dramatically weakened certain sections of the Voting Rights Act, Roberts was involved in the administration's effort to prevent Congress from overturning the Supreme Court's action. The Supreme Court had decided, despite a lack of textual basis for this interpretation of the statute, that plaintiffs claiming certain violations of the Voting Rights Act, such as minority vote dilution.
First, as Acting Solicitor General, Roberts was the government's lead counsel before the Supreme Court in Lujan v. National Wildlife Federation, a case brought by citizens seeking to enforce environmental protections in response to the government's decision to open 4,500 acres of public land to mining activity.
The Freedom of Choice
In two cases, Roberts took positions hostile to women's reproductive rights. He was a co-author of the government's brief in Rust v. Sullivan, the case in which the Supreme Court upheld newly revised Title X regulations that prohibited U.S. family planning programs receiving federal aid from giving any abortion-related counseling or other services.
Roberts co-authored two briefs on the government's behalf arguing for court supervision to be lifted in school desegregation cases. In a 1990 case, the amicus brief co-authored by Roberts in his capacity as Deputy Solicitor General sought to weaken the standard and limit the timeline for court-enforced desegregation decrees in the nation's schools.
The Separation of Church and State
Roberts co-authored two briefs arguing for an expanded role for religion in public schools. In one case, he co-authored a government amicus curiae brief before the Supreme Court, in which he argued that public high schools should be allowed to conduct religious ceremonies as part of a graduation program, a position rejected by the Supreme Court.