Black Conservatives Defend Comparison of Roberts to Martin Luther King

By Melanie Arter | July 7, 2008 | 8:31 PM EDT

( - A black conservative group defended its comparison Friday of Supreme Court nominee John Roberts's record to the beliefs of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

On Wednesday, Project 21 member Mychal Massie described Roberts as "the type of jurist who represents the beliefs of great Americans such as James Madison and Martin Luther King, Jr."

In response to Massie's remarks, African-American Ministers In Action, described as a front group for People for the American Way, issued a statement Thursday charging Massie with trying to "pull the wool over the eyes of the African-American community."

"John Roberts is no Martin Luther King, Jr.," said Professor Roger Wilkins.

On Friday, Massie issued a statement responding to Wilkins' comments, saying, "I neither apologize for nor shrink from my comments comparing the beliefs of Judge John Roberts, James Madison and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

"To suggest that I have in some way discredited Dr. King is simply the knee-jerk, apoplectic hysteria of those who find fault with anyone not espousing their leftist mantra of self-segregation and special rights. As a result, much of what Dr. King stood for has been undermined by their lies and pathetic misrepresentations," said Massie.

According to Massie, Judge Roberts "has worked to ensure people are not judged by the color of their skin, but rather by the content of their character."

"Is that not exactly what Dr. King espoused so eloquently? Judge Roberts's rulings and beliefs are rooted in the same document - our Constitution - that both Dr. King and Madison so gallantly defended," said Massie.

"It is the left that strives for an America governed by quotas and special rights for perceived oppressed special classes. It is the left, not Judge Roberts, Dr. King or James Madison, who seek to control what persons may say, how they may think and how our children are taught," added Massie.

Massie said King defended blacks' right to be able to "sit at the lunch counter of their choice and for black children to attend desegregated schools." King demonstrated so that blacks could freely vote in elections and purchase and live in homes they could afford, Massie added.

"He was attacked and hailed in his quest to ensure that all Americans received equal treatment. I defy those feigning insult to cite one example of Judge Roberts not supporting those ideals," said Massie.

Another Project 21 member, Cherylyn LeBon, a former senior counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Roberts's record shows "he is a careful, diligent and thoughtful lawyer who provided his clients with sound legal advice on civil rights issues."

"In private practice, Roberts has shown that he has an ability to see all sides of various civil rights issues and has the ability to recognize the complexity of current law in this area. John Roberts is a fair and thoughtful attorney, and I hope that his upcoming hearing in September will reflect these same qualities," said LeBon.

According to Project 21, it takes no position on the confirmation of any particular judicial nominee, but believes it's in the best interest of the nation to fill judicial vacancies at an appropriate speed.

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