Big Business Foundations Fund Anti-Roberts Left

Many groups opposing confirmation of John Roberts as chief justice of the United States are bankrolled by big business or foundations linked to major corporations, including leaders in the oil, telecom and banking industries.

While nobody knows for sure, many people following the confirmation process suspect that Roberts would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that largely prohibited states from restricting abortion. Also, some of Roberts’ memos from his years working in the Reagan Administration suggest he does not personally hold a permissive attitude toward illegal immigration.

Pro-choice Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) announced after two days of hearings it was opposing Roberts’ confirmation. “Roberts has consistently declined to clarify his position, and we now firmly believe that his confirmation will jeopardize women’s health and rights,” said interim PPFA President Karen Pearl in a press release.

PPFA has spent more than $140 million in the past two years, not counting the spending of its state affiliates. Foundation and corporate gifts constitute most of PPFA’s revenue. The Capital Research Center’s database on non-profit advocacy reveals a long list of corporate and foundation donors to Planned Parenthood.

The corporate foundations for Enron, Sun Microsystems, General Mills, American Express, J.P. Morgan Chase, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae have all funded PPFA in recent years (no very recent data is available on these foundations’ gifts). While these corporate foundations are run separately from each corporation, they are funded from corporate coffers and are the avenue for the corporation’s participation in charity. Sun Microsystems, for example, has a page on its website dedicated to its foundation.

“The foundation,” the page says, “was created to serve as the primary vehicle for Sun’s community investment efforts and to allow for international charitable contributions. The foundation board is composed of Sun senior management and relies on Sun’s Global Community Development department for staffing.”

In addition, some corporations directly fund Planned Parenthood. Target Stores, J.P. Morgan and Co., U.S. West and Wells Fargo have given to PPFA. Also, Chase Manhattan, Johnson & Johnson, Loews (hotels), and US Bancorp have given grants to state chapters.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) opposes Roberts just as it opposed confirmation of Miguel Estrada, whom President Bush nominated to the D.C. Circuit Court. MALDEF primarily cites Roberts’ criticism of the Reagan Administration for not taking the side of Texas in Plyler v. Doe, a case in which the Supreme Court said illegal aliens were entitled to free public schooling in the United States.

MALDEF is bankrolled by big-business foundations, including those of Wal-Mart, Shell Oil Co., BP, General Motors, Daimler-Chrysler, AT&T, Verizon, SBC and Bank of America.