March for Voting Rights: a Letter to Chief Justice Roberts

Dear Chief Justice Roberts,

I write you as a fellow American and fellow human being and as a fellow Christian on this day of the March On For Voting Rights.  I also write you as your elder and as a priest for over 53 years.  I write you because I am deeply worried about your soul.

Struggle, sacrifice, and test of endurance for a civil right: People standing in line to vote in the 2020 election. Photo by OSCE/Thomas Rymer in GPA Photo Archive, on Flickr.

I am speaking of your leadership in gutting the Civil Rights Act in two cases that your Supreme Court ruled on in your years of being Chief Justice.  I presume you are witnessing, as I and 350 million other Americans are, the tsunami of efforts in state legislatures around the country to reinvent our election laws to ensure that people of color, as in the days of Jim Crow that preceded the Civil Rights Voting Act of 1965, find it as difficult as possible to vote.  Even the counting of the votes by neutral and professional voting clerks are being tossed aside in favor of state legislatures’ choosing their own vote counters.  And leaving to themselves the right to actually overturn election results that they don’t like.

Bloody Sunday – Alabama police attack Selma-to-Montgomery marchers for voting rights, 1965. Photo by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Wikimedia Commons.

Given this destruction of American democracy and this affront to everything the civil rights movement accomplished sixty years ago with all of its martyrs and brave marchers and thousands who suffered beatings and jailings and even death to bring about an advance in justice and democracy, I wonder what you are thinking as you watch the news these days. Do you see what I see? Does it not rip your heart wide open and make your head spin?  Do you take responsibility for your actions and your sins in tossing the hard-earned Civil Rights Act of 1965 and making way for this avalanche of democratic horrors, this re-writing of what is left of our democracy?

Yes, I am worried for your soul.  As Supreme Court Chief Justice, you have been given great powers and responsibilities.  All this has happened on your watch and under your leadership.  I cannot imagine that, if you are seeing the news (on other than Fox news of course) and seeing what the rest of us are seeing, you do not feel a deep, deep complicity in all this abuse of our democracy that is going on in state houses, thanks to two decisions you effected.  Is there remorse in your soul as you watch the fruits of your labor at work in our country today?

President Lyndon B. Johnson meets with Martin Luther King, Jr., and Rosa Parks at the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Photo by Yoichi Okamoto, at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and MuseumWikimedia Commons.

I wonder where your conscience is at.  It is not enough, as a public figure with a public responsibility to protect the Constitution under which 350 million of us live, that you go to a private confession to be forgiven sins like this.  You need to contribute to a public undoing of your unjust decision-making that is truly imperiling the future of American democracy.  Maybe some sackcloth and ashes are in order, as was the case in our religion 1700 years ago. That is the penance I would subscribe for you, were you to come to confession to me.  Or something equally compelling.  Like resigning from your job.

I pray for you and your soul and for the future of democracy in America and that judges cleanse their souls of bigotry, racism and unjust decision-making that turns the clock back and impacts hundreds of millions of people for generations to come.  And do so publicly.


Rev. Dr. Matthew Fox

See Matthew Fox, The Reinvention of Work.  

Also see Matthew Fox, Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth

Also see Matthew Fox, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society

Banner Image: The Roberts Court, April 23, 2021 Seated from left to right: Justices Samuel A. Alito, Jr. and Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., and Justices Stephen G. Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor. Standing from left to right: Justices Brett M. Kavanaugh, Elena Kagan, Neil M. Gorsuch, and Amy Coney Barrett. Photograph by Fred Schilling, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States. On Wikimedia Commons.

For the transcript of Matthew’s video teaching, click HERE.

Queries for Contemplation

Recommended Reading

The Reinvention of Work: A New Vision of Livelihood For Our Time

Thomas Aquinas said, “To live well is to work well,” and in this bold call for the revitalization of daily work, Fox shares his vision of a world where our personal and professional lives are celebrated in harmony–a world where the self is not sacrificed for a job but is sanctified by authentic “soul work.”
“Fox approaches the level of poetry in describing the reciprocity that must be present between one’s inner and outer work…[A]n important road map to social change.” ~~ National Catholic Reporter

Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth

Fox’s spirituality weds the healing and liberation found in North American Creation Spirituality and in South American Liberation Theology. Creation Spirituality challenges readers of every religious and political persuasion to unite in a new vision through which we learn to honor the earth and the people who inhabit it as the gift of a good and just Creator.
“A watershed theological work that offers a common ground for religious seekers and activists of all stripes.” — Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice.

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18 thoughts on “March for Voting Rights: a Letter to Chief Justice Roberts”

  1. Avatar

    Your letter reminds me of Archbishop Tutu’s proclaiming the “sin” of apartheid just before he helped create the Truth & Reconciliation Commission. Using that word, sin, to label the heinous abuses of apartheid, as you may recall, caused a furor. I can understand your wish not to use the word and all its fraught meanings but it seems to me to fit this scenario of the Supreme Court as it races off the rails and punishes many who have no voice and now will have no vote.

  2. Avatar

    Thank you Fr Matthew – I attended a workshop weekend in Perth, Australia many years ago and was struck by your love of humanity and desire to make great changes in our world at that time. I was moved by your courageous letter to Justice Roberts today in calling out the reversal of a momentous decision made in America in 1965 empowering people of colour to vote in their country for the first time. A time of liberation, justification and recognition that we are all the same under our skin and no one is unacceptable or unworthy. We are blessed to have you as mentor, guide and inspiration in today’s world. I will do anything I can to make a difference. Blessings on you – I will send my energy and love to you and those who follow you.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Mary, I too was struck by Matthew’s “love of humanity and desire to make great changes in our world” when I first heard him back in 1988, and I agree that, ” We are blessed to have Matthew as mentor, guide and inspiration in today’s world. I will do anything I can to make a difference”–and so will I…

  3. Avatar

    Thank you, Matthew, for your good example. Your wonderful letter to Chief Justice Roberts inspires me to write my own letter to him as well. Even though I am Canadian, anywhere injustice happens in the world, that injustice happens to me.
    Joan Doyle

    1. Avatar

      Mathew, thank you for being whom God created you to be, a truth-teller, a prophetic voice, a justice seeker through love, a light-reflection of what is of true meaning, value and purpose in this world, a courageous warrior taking a stand for righteousness…. and many other things.

      From what you have shared through your books, I am certain your journey of surrendering in faith, hope and trust to the movements of the Holy Spirit and the many things She has prompted, led, guided and wisely counseled you to do… has not been easy. Your choosing to do so, is making a difference in many ways, far beyond which you are probably aware of. Never underestimate the importance of planting seeds that you may never see the future growth or fruit of in your life-time… for these things will do so, in the wisdom and seasons of God’s timing.

  4. Avatar

    Thank you, Matthew for using love, compassion and your voice to speak truth to those in power in our country today.

  5. Avatar

    Thank you, Matthew Fox, for your beautiful, amazing letter to Chief Justice Roberts! Long have I been inspired by you and your writing, but never more than now. I pray that I and many others will take hold of the courage and love God yearns to give us every day, so that we too may speak up boldly for justice as you do, not counting the cost.

  6. Avatar

    Dr. Fox,
    I LOVED your response to people who were critical of your comments about the USA’s Education system needing to be changed!
    I loved your passion, energy, and clarity in your response! You seemed so alive you almost couldn’t remain sitting.
    I agree with your criticism of our Education system, and hope to look at your book’s recommended alternatives.
    Carroll E. Arkema

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      AMEN !!! And I can tell you in advance that Matthew’s book, THE AWE PROJECT, has real alternatives to our traditional Education model.

  7. Avatar
    Pauline Mary Theresa Lally

    Speaking Truth to Power is what prophets of old and today do. Thank you for doing it today, Mathew, and NAMING the sin. CONGRATULATIONS!

  8. Avatar

    Thank you for your courage and wisdom. I am trying to think what more I can do, other than pray. I have contacted my senators and representative to pass the John Lewis bill and did the same locally against the repressive bills passed here in Florida, which included voter suppression as well as criminalization of protests and the banning of home rule by cities or counties. As an elderly, disabled and not wealthy person, my ability to vote has been tampered with by making it harder to vote by mail. My heart breaks for all those who had hope after the long battle for civil rights seemed to have been won. These tactics are meant to discourage people from even trying to vote. One section of these draconian laws requires that those who are signing people up to register to vote must tell them that their paperwork may not get filed. There is a lawsuit against this, but it just illustrates the lengths that the anti-democratic forces will go to. Their legal tactics are basically to tie things up in court to wear people out and deplete their financial resources.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Sue, It’s a shame, but I think your right–that the lawsuit you speak of illustrates the lengths that the anti-democratic forces will go to… and again I say its a shame!

  9. Avatar

    The fundamental flaw in US democracy is that you do not have compulsory voting … that is the only democracy I have known and it works well … Constitutional rights aren’t worth the paper they’re written on if they can be bastardised by whomever is interpreting them …you needed voting registration drives and freedom marches so people of colour
    could have a say in your democracy … shame …. shame at what is happening now

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Leah, I hear you. The way things are now must change! We call that the Via Transformativa (one of the Four Paths of Creation Spirituality) where we work for the transformation of society so that it is more just and humane.

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