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I don't want to start any blasphemous rumors but...

Is Supreme Court nominee John Roberts gay? Does Mrs. Roberts hate men?
 
 
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Suppose President Bush had taken his wife's advice and nominated a woman to fill the Sandra Day O'Connor's vacancy on the Supreme Court. Suppose that woman was Judge Jane Sullivan Roberts, highly respected lawyer and wife of actual-nominee John Roberts.

If our John had been a Jane, and the self-named feminist that Jane is, and if she'd made even one of the disparaging comments her husband has made about the opposite gender, you can bet the press would be asking if she was gay or a man-hater instead of smiling at Roberts' "careless remarks."

Slate chronicles the worst of it, from an unusually snide and adamant argument John Roberts made in high school against co-education ("I would prefer to discuss Shakespeare's double entendre ... without a [b]londe giggling and blushing behind me') to the more recent dismisals of gender discrimination and the "purported" idea of a "gender gap."

There's no question that a female nominee's comments about gender would have been scrutinized much more carefully. Heaven forbid there's a man-hating woman on the bench. But hey, a man who doesn't respect women? Well, he can just join Clarence Thomas for drinks after a hard day on the bench.

John Roberts is likely to be confirmed in a polite and bloodless Congressional hearing. But this is a man who will help define the state of women's rights for at least the next half-century. It's a sad legacy that the nation's first woman justice will be replaced by someone who thought women weren't up to the task of reading Shakespere.

Rachel Neumann is Rights & Liberties Editor at AlterNet.