The Chief Justice of the United States
Roberts's Queer Reasoning on AIDS
David W. Webber The Nation September 26, 2005
On September 17, 1985, President Ronald Reagan held his first press conference since the public disclosure three months earlier that actor Rock Hudson had AIDS. Up to that point, Reagan had never spoken publicly about the epidemic, despite the fact that the first cases of AIDS had been reported more than four years earlier and more than 12,000 people had been diagnosed. But things changed with the disclosure of Hudson's diagnosis; Americans who had never given the epidemic any thought were now confronted with the chilling notion that anyone--a Hollywood actor or even a child--could get AIDS.
Reagan's staff, anticipating questions on the subject, prepared him to respond. Just as they expected, he was asked whether, if he had school-aged children, he would send them to school with a child who had AIDS. "I'm glad I'm not faced with that problem today," Reagan answered. He expressed his "compassion" for "the child that has this," while stating as a given that "he is now an outcast and can no longer associate with his playmates and schoolmates." Reagan cont