Roberts and his Pro Bono Work on Romer.--

I find the discussion of John Roberts' pro bono work on Romer interesting because it shows one or both of two things: either Roberts favors sexual liberty or he really does approach legal issues as a lawyer, able even to offer his very valuable time without pay to helping a client take a position at odds with conservative political views.

People should not discount Roberts' ability to decline to work on a hot-button case, if he were too careerist to take on a controversial case or so morally opposed to gay rights that he did not want to lend his help.

I did a bit of pro bono work for the National Organization for Women (NOW) on a big abortion clinic bombing case that went before the US Supreme Court twice (reading briefs, suggesting strategies, some limited research, mooting an argument). Before one of the Supreme Court arguments, I set up a small mooting session at Northwestern. We got a panel together, but both of the conservatives (former Supreme Court clerks) whom I asked to moot declined. I didn't ask them why, but either morality or potential careerist reasons were likely.

So I wouldn't discount the importance of Roberts' mooting and advising on Romer v. Evans, though I have no idea whether it means that he is inclined toward recognizing sexual liberty in the Constitution or whether it means that he approaches even hot-button political issues according to the role he should play in the legal scheme.

Either way, the more I read about Roberts the better I like him.

This is another example that very well educated conservatives rarely fit the public stereotypes assigned to them. While very high educations tend to make liberals more consistently liberal, very high educations tend to make conservatives less consistently conservative (and thus less extreme) on social issues. For this reason, those presidential nominees targeted as "outside the mainstream" are very probably not extreme at all. While they would be likely to be conservative on some issues, on some other issues they would be likely to take the liberal side of things.

This is a bit like highly educated bloggers: while supposedly "conservative" bloggers might support Bush's court nomineees and the War on Terror, such "conservatives" often take the liberal side on some issues, such as perhaps abortion rights, gay rights, assisted suicide, and stem-cell research, and they might also believe in evolution, oppose mandatory school prayer, or favor the right to burn flags. Such a diversity of views among the highly educated left is much more rare.

UPDATE: More on this at the New York Times, Althouse, William Woody, and A Knight's Blog.