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In his files, Roberts kept a copy of Rehnquist's dissent from the 1985 "moment-of-silence" case, espousing the future chief justice's oft-stated view that the Constitution prevents Congress from declaring an official national religion, but that it does not require absolute government neutrality toward religion.
The theory, supported by the Carter administration to achieve pay equity, was one of the more contentious labor issues of the time. When a federal judge approved it in Washington state in 1983, Roberts harshly criticized the novel ruling as giving judges, not the market, the power to decide the value of different jobs, according to new documents released Monday.
Rehnquist has argued that the Constitution does not demand absolute neutrality or even ''hostility" to religion. O'Connor has been more skeptical, particularly in cases such as school prayer and displays of the Ten Commandments on government property. The documents released yesterday suggest that Roberts's view may be closer to Rehnquist's than to O'Connor's
"I tend to think that the presence of the opposite sex in the classroom will be confining rather than catholicizing," he wrote. "I would prefer to discuss Shakespeare's double entendre and the latus rectum of conic sections without a londe giggling and blushing behind me."