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The Roberts Nomination

by Alex Miller-Mignone

“We continue to believe Roe [v. Wade] was wrongly decided and should be overruled.”

John G. Roberts, Supreme Court brief, 1991

“Roe v. Wade is the settled law of the land....There is nothing in my personal views that would prevent me from fully and faithfully applying that precedent.”

John G. Roberts, Senate appellate court
confirmation hearings, 2003

Roberts NominationOn July 19, 2005, George W. Bush announced his first nominee for a US Supreme Court vacancy. In a televised speech from the White House, Bush presented John G. Roberts, currently a judge on the DC Circuit of the appellate courts.

The chart for the nomination shows no less than three planets, Sun, Venus and Mars, in aspect to the Galactic Center ("GC") at 26 Sagittarius, as well as Pluto within orb of conjunction at 22 Sagittarius, all of which implies an announcement of unusual, possibly global, import. The Sun at 26 Cancer is exactly inconjunct, while Venus at 25 Leo and Mars at 24 Aries form a Grand Trine with the GC. These three highly personal planets contacting the GC indicate the importance of the nomination for average Americans, whose individual rights could well be affected by the appointment.

Jupiter at 11 Libra is exactly sextile Black Hole Anubis at 11 Sagittarius, sextile Black Hole Cernunnos at 10 Leo, opposed the q uasar at 10 Aries and trine Black Hole Kybele at 12 Aquarius, also within orb of Black Hole Nemesis at 13 Libra. Saturn has just entered Leo and is within orb of Black Hole Merlin at 3 Leo and in sextile to Black Hole Adonis at 1 Libra, the supermassive Black Hole center of Galaxy M-87 and the largest anomaly of its type of which we are aware. Jupiter/judiciary and Saturn/courts both in strong galactic positions is a further indicator of the importance of this nomination.

John G. RobertsA native of upstate New York, Roberts has a long history of lawyering for conservative individuals and causes, from stints clerking for Chief Justice William Rehnquist and as Associate Counsel to Ronald Reagan, to Deputy Solicitor General of the US under Bush the Elder. The Clinton years were spent at the law firm of Hogan & Hartson, one of DC’s largest. While there he headed the Appellate Practice Group and argued over three dozen cases before the Supreme Court, most of which he won. He was not made a judge until 2003, when Bush the Younger appointed him to the DC appellate court (he had previously been nominated for this position by Bush the Elder in 1992, but never received a floor vote for confirmation before the clock ran out on that administration).

As a judge for barely two years, Roberts’ paper trail of decisions is thin, and his supporters will rightly argue that his prior actions on behalf of clients do not necessarily imply his personal endorsement of their views. Some of his earlier work, however, is troubling, from a liberal perspective.

Most disturbing is his co-authorship in 1991, while deputy solicitor general for the Bush I White House, of an administration brief to the Supreme Court preventing clinics which receive federal funds from discussing abortion with their patients. The policy was endorsed by the court. In the brief, Roberts wrote that “Roe was wrongly decided and should be overruled,” stating that the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion “finds no support in the text, structure, or history of the Constitution.”

But during his 2003 Senate confirmation hearings for the appellate court position he now holds, Roberts stated that “Roe v. Wade is the settled law of the land,” and “there is nothing in my personal views that would prevent me from fully and faithfully applying that precedent.” People, even lawyers, do show growth over time, but they can also grow more crafty; is this apparently forthright statement an indication that Roberts’ views on Roe have mellowed, or that the views expressed earlier were never his own to begin with? Or is it a clever way of avoiding the question of whether or not he would continue to support Roe as the current law of the land, or rule in future to overturn it? As an Appellate Court judge he would have no choice but to support it; as a Supreme Court justice he is in a position to reverse it.

Roberts’ resume includes work with Special Prosecutor Ken Starr, and he was on the legal team which successfully argued Bush v. Gore before the Supreme Court, which installed Dubya in the White House. He has ruled against environmental issues in the case of the arroyo toad, and against veterans in a Gulf War case. In the latter, veterans who had been captured by Iraqi forces in the First Gulf War and then subsequently tortured, were awarded nearly a billion dollars in damages by a US court. But after Saddam was ousted in the Second Gulf War, the Bush administration intervened to block the award, to spare the new Iraqi government the liability costs. Roberts sided with the administration, opining that the federal courts did not even have jurisdiction to consider the veterans’ claims. That case is now on appeal to the very court Roberts has been nominated to.

Born January 27, 1955, Roberts’ natal chart may indicate some surprises from his tenure on the high court bench, which at age 50, is likely to be a long one. His Sun at 6 Aquarius is exactly square Black Hole Dionysos at 6 Scorpio, and could imply a changeable nature. To this point, he has expressed more of the reactionary, Saturnine energies of Aquarius, but its Uranian love of equal rights, fairness and humanity is also a part of his core make-up, and may find expression once he has no one to answer to for his rulings but his own conscience. So Bush the Elder found with Justice David Souter, who seemed a reliable conservative but who has sided with the liberal phalanx of justices on many issues in his nearly 20 years on the court.

Another indicator that there may be judicial surprises in the offing is Roberts’ Jupiter/Uranus conjunction at 23 and 25 Cancer (highlighted by the Sun at 26 at his nomination). The combination implies a certain level of judicial unpredictability or erratic rulings, and perhaps a liberal bias which has not yet been evident. He is not likely to be a conservative rubber stamp; it will be harder to pin down his vote in advance of the facts being presented, and he is susceptible to a well-composed argument. But both planets are retrograde, also a possible indicator of the propensity for frequent reversals.

Roberts is known as a brilliant legal mind, which can be seen in the natal T-Square of Mercury at 25 Aquarius, opposed Pluto at 26 Leo retrograde, both squared by Saturn at 20 Scorpio. The depth and penetration of Mercury/Pluto minds is notorious, and with Saturn in the mix this fine intellect turns to the legalities. E. Barrett Prettyman, Jr., a Democratic colleague from Hogan & Hartson, states that “[Roberts] respects the Court greatly, and would not ignore precedent. But if there’s a loophole or a distinguishing factor, he’d find it.” That statement goes very far toward summing up the T-Square in question.

Mercury is also conjunct a quasar, a deep space anomaly which promotes achievement and manifestation. As such, expect Roberts to be a prolific writer for the Court, in both decisions and dissents.

In general, his vote is likely to be aligned with the conservative bloc of Rehnquist, Scalia and Thomas, although Dean Colson, also a Rehnquist clerk at the same time as Roberts, whom he calls “the smartest lawyer in America,” has stated that he does not “view him as someone having an agenda to promote.” We may well hope so. But regardless, the days of Sandra Day O’Connor’s delicate swing vote high wire act are over; the court likely takes a markedly conservative shift with this appointment, a tendency which will only increase if Dubya is granted other Supreme Court nominations before his tenure in office expires.

Alex Miller-Mignone, photo
Alex Miller-Mignone is a professional writer and astrologer, author of The Black Hole Book and The Urban Wicca, former editor of "The Galactic Calendar," and past president of The Philadelphia Astrological Society.

His pioneering work with Black Holes in astrological interpretation began in 1991, when his progressed Sun unwittingly fell into one. Alex can be reached for comment or services at