As an assistant White House counsel in 1984, John Roberts scoffed at the notion that men and women should earn equal pay in jobs of comparable importance, and he belittled three female Republican members of Congress who promoted that idea to the Reagan administration.
The memo from Roberts, now President Bush's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, was a response to a letter that the three women - one of whom was Olympia Snowe of Maine, now a U.S. senator - had sent to the administration. The women had said that the concept of "equal pay for equal work" had not sufficiently boosted women's wages because women were not in many of the same fields as men. The three were promoting the notion of equal pay for different jobs of comparable value, based on factors such as skills and responsibility.
In his memo to White House counsel Fred Fielding, Roberts said the women's letter "contends that more is required because women still earn only $0.60 for every $1 earned by men, ignoring the factors that explain that apparent disparity, such as seniority, the fact that many women frequently leave the work force for extended periods of time. I honestly find it troubling that three Republican representatives are so quick to embrace such a radical redistributive concept. Their slogan may as well be, 'From each according to his ability, to each according to her gender.'"
"Radical redistributive concept". Lovely. Justice O'Connor was a tireless crusader for women rights in the workplace and schools. The contrast couldn't be starker.