Roberts 'Played' for Playboy in SCOTUS Case

Bush’s pick for the Supreme Court worked for Playboy in high court case.

Supreme Court nominee Judge John Roberts, while serving as the head of Hogan & Hartson’s appellate division, spent about a dozen hours working on behalf of Playboy Entertainment Group in a case before the Supreme Court in 1999, his former colleague told HUMAN EVENTS.

Roberts played the role of a Supreme Court justice in a moot court setting, preparing Playboy’s lead counsel, Robert Corn-Revere, who worked in Hogan & Hartson’s communications department, for his oral argument before the Supreme Court, Corn-Revere confirmed to HUMAN EVENTS.

“In the 3-and-a-half to 4 years we worked on that case,” Corn-Revere said, “John may have devoted about a dozen hours at most.”

Playboy’s case challenged the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which required cable TV operators to scramble sexually explicit content or restrict the pornography to hours when children would be unlikely to view it. Playboy won the case, 5-4, much to the consternation of conservatives. Justice Antonin Scalia wrote a biting dissent.

Roberts’ involvement in the Playboy case was mentioned on MSNBC’s “Scarborough Country” the night he was nominated by President Bush for a seat on the Supreme Court. The publication Communications Daily later disclosed Roberts’ attendance on behalf of Playboy in a meeting at the U.S. Solicitor General’s office. Corn-Revere said the meeting took place in 1999, and described it as “typical” in a case involving the Department of Justice. Roberts was asked to attend, Corn-Revere said, because he previously worked in the office during President George H.W. Bush’s administration.

“John, as he did with many clients at the firm, was available for advice from time to time,” Corn-Revere told HUMAN EVENTS. “In this case, he helped with moot courts in preparing me for oral argument in the case at the Supreme Court.”

Corn-Revere, who left Hogan & Hartson in 2003 and is now a partner at Davis Wright Tremaine, said he worked with Roberts on at least two Federal Communications Commission cases during their time at Hogan & Hartson.

“I never had a sense that John’s work for any clients necessarily represented his own personal views,” Corn-Revere said. “He was being a professional and he was helping out colleagues.” He added, “Just like others in the firm, he was generally available for advice if something came up in his field.”

Conservatives were dismayed to learn last week that Roberts played a similar role in Romer v. Evans, a landmark homosexual-rights case. Just as in the Playboy case, Roberts assisted with moot court. Romer, however, was a “pro bono” project, whereas Playboy was a paying client.