|John G. Roberts|
|Current Court Information:|
|Supreme Court of the United States|
|Appointed by:||George W. Bush|
|Preceded by:||William Rehnquist|
|Past post:||District of Columbia Court of Appeals|
|Law School:||Harvard Law, 1979|
- 1 Judicial philosophy
- 2 Early life and education
- 3 Professional career
- 4 Supreme Court of the United States
- 5 District of Columbia Court of Appeals
- 6 Awards and associations
- 7 See also
- 8 External links
- 9 References
John Glover Roberts, Jr. is the seventeenth and current Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. He is the 109th justice of the Court. Prior to his nomination and confirmation as a federal judge in 2003, Roberts spent more than twenty years working in Washington, D.C. in the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Roberts also worked in private practice during that time.
In 2003, President George W. Bush nominated Roberts to the District of Columbia Circuit. In 2005, President Bush nominated Roberts to the Supreme Court of the United States to fill the vacancy of Sandra Day O'Connor. Roberts was never confirmed to that seat. When William Rehnquist passed away on September 3, 2005, President Bush then nominated him as Chief Justice of the United States. He took his seat on September 29, 2005, after a confirmation vote of 78-22.
Generally considered to be a practitioner of judicial restraint, Roberts most often votes with the conservative wing of the Court. As a Chief Justice, Roberts has tried to build more unanimity, working to issue less 5-4 decisions. In the 2013 Supreme Court session, 65 percent of the rulings were 9-0.
Early life and education
John Glover Roberts, Jr. was born in Buffalo, New York on January 27, 1955. Roberts was raised as and continues to be a practicing Roman Catholic. He attended private schools as a child and graduated from La Lumiere School, an all-boys Roman Catholic boarding school in LaPorte, Indiana, as class valedictorian in 1973.
Harvard College and Law School
Roberts attended Harvard for both his undergraduate and law degrees. He received his undergraduate degree from Harvard College in 1976 after only three years, and he received his Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School in 1979. While at Harvard, Roberts studied history. He wrote his thesis on British Liberalism in the Early 20th Century and graduated summa cum laude. At Harvard Law School, he served as managing editor of the prestigious Harvard Law Review and graduated magna cum laude.
- 1993-2003: Partner, Hogan & Hartson L.L.P.
- 1989-1993: Principal Deputy Solicitor General, United States Department of Justice
- 1986-1989: Attorney, Hogan & Hartson
- 1982-1986: Associate Counsel to the President, White House Counsel's Office
- 1981-1982: Special Assistant to Attorney General William French Smith, United States Department of Justice
- 1980-1981: Law Clerk, then-Associate Justice William Rehnquist
- 1979-1980: Law Clerk, Henry Friendly, United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
- 1978: Law Clerk, Carlsmith, Carlsmith, Wichman & Case
- 1977: Law Clerk, Ice, Miller, Donadio & Ryan
Executive branch service
Following his time as a clerk for William Rehnquist, Roberts entered into a number of executive branch appointments that saw him serve in the administrations of Republican presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
Roberts served as Special Assistant to U.S. Attorney General William French Smith from 1981 to 1982. In that role, he advised the Attorney General, wrote speeches and acted as the Attorney General's representative to other officials in the executive branch and state and local governments.
From 1982 to 1986, Roberts served as Associate Counsel to President Ronald Reagan's White House Counsel Office under Fred F. Fielding. Fielding served as White House Counsel to presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. Roberts' duties in the White House included reviewing bills submitted to the President by Congress, drafting and reviewing executive orders and generally reviewing the full range of presidential activities for legal problems.
George H.W. Bush administration
Roberts served as Principal Deputy Solicitor General in the United States Department of Justice from 1989 to 1993. As Principal Deputy Solicitor General, Chief Justice Roberts briefed and argued a variety of cases before the United States Supreme Court on behalf of the U.S. government.
From 1986 to 1989, Roberts practiced law in Washington, D.C. as an associate at Hogan & Hartson. He made partner in 1988 while building a strong civil litigation practice focused on appellate matters. Roberts would leave the firm in 1989 to serve as Principal Deputy Solicitor General in President George H.W. Bush's administration. He returned in 1993 to lead the firm's appellate practice group.
Roberts argued his first case before the Supreme Court of the United States in 1989. As a court-appointed attorney, he successfully represented his client against the United States government in United States v. Halper, a double jeopardy case decided by a unanimous Court. Roberts would ultimately argue a total of 39 cases before the Supreme Court of the United States, winning 25 of them.
Roberts was also part of the team of lawyers sent to Florida to advise Governor Jeb Bush during the 2000 presidential election recount in that state, which ultimately put the governor's brother, George W. Bush, in the White House.
Supreme Court of the United States
Opinions by year
Below is a table of the number of opinions, concurrences, dissents, and splits (concur in part, dissent in part) that John G. Roberts has issued since joining the Supreme Court, according to the data on Cornell University’s Legal Information Institute.
|Concur in part, Dissent in part||0||2||0||0||2||0||0||0||0|
| • Affordable Care Act upheld (2012)|
Judge(s):John Roberts (National Federation of Independent Business et. al v. Sebelius, Secretary of Heath and Human Services, et. al, 11-393)
|Click for summary→|
|In June 2012, Chief Justice Roberts wrote the majority opinion in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, better known as the challenge to "Obamacare." Challengers to the law argued that the federal government's power under the Commerce Clause was not valid to make individuals purchase a good or service, in this case, healthcare. Roberts agreed with that interpretation, but surprised many observers by allowing the law to stand on the basis of Congress' authority to levy a tax.
For a thorough explanation of the federal healthcare act and the challenges it faced in court, see: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in the courts.
In the criticism of the law that followed the ruling, Republican Senator Rand Paul introduced a constitutional amendment that would mandate that every piece of legislation passed by Congress applies to every U.S. citizen and members of the House and Senate equally. In a statement about the legislation, Paul said:
| • Parents Involved v. Seattle (2007)|
Judge(s):John Roberts (Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 et al., 551 U. S. ____ (2007))
|Click for summary→|
|In June 2007, Chief Justice Roberts authored the plurality opinion in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1. At issue was whether it was constitutionally permissible for a public school district, and particularly those that had not operated segregated schools in the past, to (1) classify students by race and (2) rely upon such racial classifications in making school assignments.
The school districts involved voluntarily adopted student assignment plans that relied upon race to determine which public schools certain children may attend. The Seattle, Washington school district classified children as white or nonwhite, while the Jefferson County (Louisville, Kentucky) school district classified children as black or “other.” In Seattle, this racial classification was used to allocate slots in oversubscribed high schools. In Jefferson County, it was used to make certain elementary school assignments and to rule on transfer requests. In each case, the school districts relied upon an individual student's race in assigning that student to a particular school, so that the racial balance at the school fell within a predetermined range based on the racial composition of the school district as a whole. Parents of students denied assignment to particular schools under these plans solely because of their race brought suit, contending that allocating children to different public schools on the basis of race violated the Fourteenth Amendment guarantee of equal protection.
In writing for the majority, Chief Justice Roberts made a statement that would be quoted in articles about affirmative action for years:
| • Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (2005)|
Judge(s):John Roberts (Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense et al., 05-184 (2006))
|Click for summary→|
|The Supreme Court of the United States reversed a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in the case of Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, which concerned military tribunals for detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Roberts recused himself as Chief Justice from this case as he had been part of a unanimous decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit which held that enemy combatants could be subjected to military tribunals upon being declared enemy combatants. Roberts and the appellate court held that the War on Terror is not a declared war between two countries that are signatories of either the Geneva Conventions or the Uniform Code of Military Justice.|
Nomination and confirmation
|Candidate:||John G. Roberts, Jr.|
|Court:||Supreme Court of the United States|
|Progress:||Confirmed 23 days after nomination.|
|Nominated:||September 6, 2005|
|ABA Rating:||Unanimously Well Qualified|
|Hearing:||September 12-15, 2005|
|Hearing Transcript:||Hearing Transcript|
|Reported:||September 22, 2005|
|Confirmed:||September 29, 2005|
John Roberts was first nominated to the Supreme Court of the United States on July 19, 2005, to fill the vacancy of Sandra Day O'Connor, who had announced her intent to retire in 2005. However, President George W. Bush withdrew his nomination of Roberts to be an Associate Justice when Chief Justice William Rehnquist passed away on September 3, 2005. President Bush then renominated Roberts, on September 6, 2005, to be the next Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. President Bush requested that the Senate expedite his nomination to fill the vacancy prior to the start of the Supreme Court session beginning in early October.
On September 22nd, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved Roberts' nomination by a vote of 13-5, with Senators Ted Kennedy, Dick Durbin, Chuck Schumer, Joe Biden and Dianne Feinstein casting the dissenting votes. The full Senate confirmed Roberts on September 29th on a vote of 78-22.
Oath of office
District of Columbia Court of Appeals
From 2003 until he took his seat on the Supreme Court, Roberts served as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. During his two years on the bench, Roberts authored 49 opinions, two of which elicited dissents from other judges. Roberts also authored three dissenting opinions.
Nomination and Confirmation
Roberts was first nominated by President George H.W. Bush to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 1992. His nomination was never taken up for a vote, and he returned to private practice after President Bush lost the 1992 presidential election to President Bill Clinton.
In May 2001, Roberts received an appointment to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit by President George W. Bush. Senator Patrick Leahy chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee for the next nineteen months and refused Roberts a confirmation hearing.
Summary of judgeship and legal opinions
Roberts' time as an appellate judge generally found his rulings to be consistent with conservative philosophies. Yet, he was considered a highly respected and fair jurist. Of his 49 opinions, only two garnered dissenting opinions. During his tenure, Roberts offered the following rulings on notable cases:
| • Hedgepeth v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (2004)|
Judge(s):John Roberts (Hedgepth v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, et al., 386 F.3d 1148)
|Click for summary→|
|In the case of Hedgepeth v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, the court (Roberts filing the Opinion) held that a 12-year-old girl's Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights were not violated by her arrest and juvenile detention for violating a "zero tolerance" law against eating or drinking in a Metrorail station.
| • Rancho Viejo, LLC v. Norton (2003)|
Judge(s):John Roberts (Rancho Viejo, LLC v. Norton, 334 F.3d 1158)
|Click for summary→|
|The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (Roberts dissenting) refused to hear an appeal on behalf of a developer whose housing project was halted through the Endangered Species Act in the case of Rancho Viejo, LLC. v. Norton. Roberts' dissent became a source of controversy during his confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court of the United States when environmental groups brought attention to his dissenting opinion. Interestingly, Roberts' dissent does not constitute precedent and therefore has no legal standing. Roberts claimed:
Awards and associations
- 1976: Bowdoin Essay Prize for the best undergraduate essay in the English language
- 1976: Phi Beta Kappa
- 1976: Detur Prize for cumulative academic record, Harvard University
- 1974-1976: John Harvard Scholarship, Harvard University
- 1974: Edwards Whitaker Scholarship, Harvard University
- 1974: William Scott Ferguson Prize for the most outstanding essay submitted by a Sophomore concentrating in History, Harvard University
- 2000: United States Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on Appellate Rules
- 2003-2005: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Judicial Conference
- 2001: Edward Coke Appellate American Inn of Court
- 1998: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Judicial Conference
- 1998: American Academy of Appellate Lawyers
- 1995: Fourth Circuit Judicial Conference
- 1991-1992: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Judicial Conference
- 1990: American Law Institute
- 1987: Supreme Court Historical Society
- Legal Advisory Board, State and Local Legal Center
- Outside Advisory Board, Georgetown University Law Center, Supreme Court Institute
- Legal Advisory Board, National Legal Center for the Public Interest
- 2003-Present: Family Membership, Palisades Pool
- 2000-2001: Justice Advisory Council
- 1996-Present: The Lawyers Club of Washington
- 1995-Present: The Metropolitan Club
- 1992-Present: Robert Trent Jones Golf Club
- 1991-1994: Republican National Lawyers Association
- American Judicature Society
- Joint Project on the Independent Counsel Statute, American Enterprise Institute and the Brookings Institution
- Supreme Court of the United States
- The Roberts Court
- District of Columbia v. Heller
- News: Major cases of the Supreme Court October 2012 term, June 27, 2013
- News: Supreme Court considers Maryland's DNA case, July 31, 2012
- Legal profiles:
- Financial information:
- Issue positions:
- Works by or about:
- Media appearances:
- Media coverage:
- The White House of President George W. Bush, "Judicial Nominations: Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr." accessed July 11, 2014
- CSpan Video Library, "Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Judicial Conference, Video: Chief Justice John Roberts Remarks," June 29, 2013
- Supreme Court of the United States, "Biographies of the current U.S. Supreme Court justices," accessed July 11, 2014
- The Atlantic, "Robert's Rules," January 1, 2007
- New York Times, "Compromise at the Supreme Court Veils Its Rifts," July 1, 2014
- Ancestry of John G. Roberts as compiled by William Addams Reitwiesner, accessed July 11, 2014
- La Lumiere "Notable alumni of La Lumiere School," accessed July 11, 2014
- New York Times, "Court Nominee's Life Is Rooted in Faith and Respect for Law," July 21, 2005
- The Harvard Crimson, "Two alums may be tapped for court," July 8, 2005
- Time, "Bush Picks a Replacement for Harriet Miers," January 8, 2007
- White House Archives, "Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr.," accessed July 11, 2014
- Hogan & Hartson, "Former Hogan & Hartson Partner John G. Roberts, Jr. Confirmed as Chief Justice of the United States," archived October 9, 2008
- Justia, "United States v. Halper, 490 U.S. 435 (1989)," accessed July 11, 2014
- Los Angeles Times, "Confirmation Path May Run Through Florida," July 21, 2005
- Cornell University, "WRITINGS BY JUSTICE ROBERTS," accessed July 9, 2014
- SCOTUSblog, "National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius," accessed July 11, 2014
- The Atlantic Wire, "Rand Paul Wants John Roberts to Sign Up for Obamacare," October 21, 2013
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- Cornell University Law School, "Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1," accessed July 11, 2014
- Justia, "Hamdan v. Rumsfeld," accessed July 9, 2014
- CNN, "I come with 'no agenda,' Roberts tells hearing," September 13, 2004
- Supreme Court of the United States, "Oaths of Office Taken by the Current Court," accessed September 3, 2013
- Washington Times "Pat Leahy, Judiciary Committee Chairman?" October 16, 2006
- Open Jurist, "Hedgepeth v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority," accessed July 9, 2014
- Open Jurist, "Rancho Viejo Llc v. A Norton," accessed July 9, 2014
- GPO.gov, "Confirmation Hearing on the Nomination of John G. Roberts, Jr. to be Chief Justice of the United States," accessed July 9, 2014
|Federal judicial offices|
|DC Circuit Court of Appeals
|Former chief justices||White|
|Former associate justices||
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