Saturday, July 23, 2005

Wife of court nominee draws interest :: NYT

A person who lives her faith.

From the NYT article:

QUOTE\ there is little mystery about the views of his wife, Jane Sullivan Roberts, a Roman Catholic lawyer from the Bronx whose pro bono work for Feminists for Life is drawing intense interest in the ideologically charged environment of a Supreme Court confirmation debate. Some abortion opponents view her activities as a clear signal that the Robertses are committed to their cause; supporters of abortion rights fear the same thing.
. . .
Mrs. Roberts, who declined to be interviewed for this article, was not recruited by Feminists for Life, but sought the group out about a decade ago and offered her services as a lawyer, said its president, Serrin Foster. The group was reorganizing at the time and beginning to focus its work on college campuses. Its mission statement, driven home in advertising in recent years, says: "Abortion is a reflection that our society has failed to meet the needs of women. Women deserve better than abortion."

Mrs. Roberts served on the board of the organization for four years, and later provided legal services. Ms. Foster said that as an adoptive parent, Mrs. Roberts made contributions that included urging the group to focus more on the needs of biological mothers, and adding a biological mother to the board of directors.

Ms. Foster said Feminists for Life was committed not only to ending abortion, but also to making it "unthinkable" by providing every woman with the assistance she needs.
. . .
One thing is certain; Mrs. Roberts's Catholic faith has long played a central role in her life. The daughter of a Postal Service technician and a medical secretary, Jane Sullivan grew up the oldest of four children in what was an Italian and Irish neighborhood in the Morris Park section of the Bronx, where she played dodgeball in the streets and took Irish step dancing lessons. With the family's parish church, Our Lady of Solace, down the block and her paternal grandparents living next door, it was a safe, close-knit existence.
. . .
After graduating from St. Catherine's Academy, an all-girls' high school in the Bronx, Mrs. Roberts joined the first class of women to enter the College of the Holy Cross, in Worcester, Mass., where she attended Mass several times a week, tutored football players in mathematics, her major, and carved a path as a student leader. A budding feminist even with her traditionalist streak, she was one of four students who represented the student body in a heated dispute when the feminist scholar Marilyn French, who taught at the college from 1972 to 1976, was denied tenure.
. . .
Determined to explore the world, she graduated from Holy Cross in 1976, traveled to Australia on a Rotary scholarship, trekked through Nepal and backpacked around Europe before earning a master's degree in applied mathematics from Brown in 1981 and a law degree from Georgetown in 1984.
. . .
In her professional life, Mrs. Roberts continued to look for the road less traveled, establishing a specialty in the male-dominated field of technology and communications law and earning a partnership in her firm's global technology practice. Still, friends and family members said, she asserted a quietly defiant individuality, negotiating multimillion-dollar satellite deals while still driving a bright orange Volkswagen Beetle long after she could have afforded a more expensive car.
. . .
The couple married in July 1996, when they were both 41, and friends say they immediately began discussing their desire to start a family, even talking about children at their wedding reception. . . . In 2000 the couple adopted a daughter, Josephine, and a son, John, through what Ms. Torre said was a private adoption. "It is a testament to the power of prayer," said Ms. Kearns, Mrs. Roberts's friend. "Who knew whether they would get any children. They qualified to adopt. She waited, but she never, ever, was discouraged."

After years as a hard-charging lawyer, Mrs. Roberts went part-time in 2003, designing and running an in-house professional development center for her firm (though colleagues say her part-time hours would be considered full-time to most people).

The Robertses' relationship, some say, has deepened their faith. "As it often happens, when two people get together and share a faith, it can be magnified by their joining," Mr. Lazarus said. "I think that has been the case for them, even more so once they had the kids. But it is a very personal faith. It does not serve, for them, as a way of judging others."

With the Supreme Court confirmation battle under way, when everything from her views on abortion to her children's clothes will be under scrutiny, Mrs. Roberts is showing her customary aplomb, friends say. Among her only complaints is that the air-conditioning in her PT Cruiser, which she is driving to strategy sessions at the White House, stopped working during this, the hottest week so far in a very hot summer. So far, she has said, she has managed to weather the heat.

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