July 19, 2005

Who is John G. Roberts?

Since his name is a real surprise to many, John G. Roberts is a true unknown to a lot of people.

Born in Buffalo, Roberts earned his undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard before launching a career marked by high-ranking government service and a lucrative run in private practice. After clerking for then Associate Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist from 1981 to 1982, Roberts served as an aide to U.S. Attorney General William French Smith and White House Counsel Fred Fielding during the Reagan administration. In 1986, he joined the prestigious Washington law firm Hogan & Hartson, where he was a Supreme Court litigator. One colleague described him as "the best appellate lawyer of his generation." But Roberts continued to jump back into government, first temporarily as the U.S. principal deputy solicitor general from 1989 to 1993 and then, 10 years later, to take the D.C. Circuit Court seat. Roberts took a hefty pay cut to become a judge: from more than $1 million a year to $171,800. "It demonstrates a commitment to public service that's admirable," says attorney Carter G. Phillips, who's known Roberts since the 1980s. "He's the perfect kind of judge from a lawyer's perspective, someone with an open mind who takes their arguments seriously."

While some conservatives worry he's the next David Souter, whose brief time on the First Circuit masked moderate-to-liberal leanings that emerged after his confirmation, liberals have long argued that Roberts is too extreme. Roberts was first nominated for the D.C. Circuit Court in 1992 by President George H.W. Bush, but Democrats, who controlled the Senate, blocked his nomination because of concerns over his record as a deputy solicitor general. In 1990, Roberts raised eyebrows when he attached a footnote to a brief in a case about abortion financing stating that Roe v. Wade should be overturned. Roberts also cowrote a brief arguing that an antiabortion group's attempts to blockade abortion clinics did not amount to a violation of equal protection. He is affiliated with the conservative Federalist Society and supports restrictions on environmental protections.

Roberts is definitely not a concensus candidate. He is a legacy candidate that will have lasting impact on the Supreme Court for at least the next 30 years.

For that reason alone, the liberals will fight his appointment, tooth and nail.

Posted by mhking at July 19, 2005 08:42 PM | TrackBack

I agree with you that Roberts is a legacy candidate. The smear has already begun less than 12 hours after the announcement. One initial report stated that they didn't believe Roberts was smearable. That has already been proven wrong.

Posted by: King of Fools at July 20, 2005 09:52 AM
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