John G. Roberts, Jr.

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John G. Roberts, Jr. was confirmed September 29, 2005, by the U.S. Senate as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in a 78-22 vote. Roberts replaces Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, who died on September 3, 2005. [1]

President George W. Bush nominated Roberts to be Supreme Court Chief Justice on September 5, 2005.

On the board of regents for the Smithsonian Institution.

2005 Supreme Court Nomination

John G. Roberts, Jr., considered by Fox News to be a conservative judge on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, was nominated July 19, 2005, by President George W. Bush as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

Aside from the usual wrangling and controversies attendant to such a partisan nomination to an important position, there is also developing a more serious, perhaps criminal (as if that mattered any more in Washington) situation described in the Roberts nomination scandal article.

Judicial Background

(reverse chronology needs technical corrections)

The opinion says that Congress authorized the president to set up whatever military tribunal he deems appropriate when it authorized him to use "all necessary and appropriate force" to fight terrorism in response to 9/11. While the president has claimed the authority only to try foreign suspects before the tribunals, there's nothing in the Hamdan opinion that stops him from extending their reach to any other suspected terrorist, American citizens included. This amounts to a free hand—and one Bush is not shy about extending. The administration has already devised its own tribunals to review its claims that the Guantanamo detainees are all enemy combatants who are not entitled to the international protections accorded to prisoners of war. As of February, 558 hearings had resulted in freedom for only three prisoners. The Supreme Court has yet to rule on the legality of these tribunals—a question that Roberts may now help decide. [2]
  • nominated May 9, 2001, by President George W. Bush to the US Court of Appeals for District of Columbia Circuit, "to a seat vacated by James L. Buckley". The nomination was sent to the US Senate January 7, 2003, and confirmed by the Senate May 8, 2003. Roberts received commission on June 2, 2003. [3][4]
"President George H.W. Bush nominated Mr. Roberts to the D.C. Circuit, but he was considered by some on the Senate Judiciary Committee to be too extreme in his views, and his nomination lapsed. He was nominated by President George W. Bush to the same seat in May 2001." [5]
  • nominated by President George H.W. Bush but never received a Senate vote." However, during the George H.W. Bush administration (1989-1993), Roberts was the "principal deputy solicitor general ..., helping formulate the administration's position in Supreme Court cases." [7]
  • "On the D.C. Circuit, Roberts voted with two colleagues to uphold the arrest and detention of a 12-year-old girl for eating french fries on a Metro train, though his opinion noted, 'No one is very happy about the events that led to this litigation.' In another case, Roberts wrote a dissenting opinion that suggested Congress might lack the constitutional power to regulate the treatment of a certain species of wildlife."
  • "Roberts was nominated for the DC Circuit in 2001 and was blocked for two years in the Senate Judiciary Committee, finally getting voted out of committee in May 2003. His committee vote was strong (16-3), but not unanimous. The Senate confirmation was without a roll call vote.
"One has only to read the Alliance for Justice reports and press releases on Roberts to realize that, like almost any other Bush nominee, he would face a buzzsaw if nominated to the Supreme Court." --Jim Lindgren, May 24, 2005.
  • In 2001, "Critics point[ed] to Roberts' representation of big business and his role in cases attacking the ADA, affirmative action, and labor interests as possible causes for opposition." [8] Roll Call reported, "The lobbying resume of Supreme Court nominee John Roberts is longer than it initially seemed. Even before he lobbied the Office of Management and Budget on behalf of the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association, Roberts worked on behalf of two clients in the peanut industry" (Tory Newmyer and Kate Ackley, "K Street Files," Roll Call, July 25, 2005).
  • In 2003, Alliance for Justice said that "John Roberts’ legal career and professional writings reveal that he is out of the mainstream in his legal views in a number of areas, most prominently civil rights and the right to choose. His record as a member of the Bush and Reagan administrations reflects opposition to the rights of women and minorities, as well as a restrictive view of the proper role of federal courts in protecting the environment and the rights of criminal defendants. His comments about the Rehnquist Court reveal Roberts’ extremist ideology, a view confirmed by his membership in and connections to ultra-conservative legal groups.
"Mr. Roberts has been nominated to a federal court with tremendous influence. The Washington Times said of the nomination of Roberts (along with that of Miguel Estrada) to the D.C. Circuit that it, 'offer[s] business the best opportunity in years to free itself from government regulations ... A victory for conservatives on the appellate court could cut deeply into the aspirations of environmentalists, labor groups, and other social activists. They depend on federal regulations to carry out their advocacy efforts.'" [9]


  • From Jeffrey Toobin, Too Close to Call : The Thirty-Six-Day Battle to Decide the 2000 Election, Random House, 2002 ISBN 0375761071:
"The president's first two nominations to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia curcuit --- generally regarded as the stepping-stone to the Supreme Court --- went to Miguel Estrada and John G. Roberts Jr., who had played important behind-the scenes roles in the Florida litigation."


According to his US Department of Justice biography:

"Mr. Roberts is the head of Hogan & Hartson’s Appellate Practice Group. He graduated from Harvard College, summa cum laude, in 1976, and received his law degree, magna cum laude, in 1979 from the Harvard Law School, where he was managing editor of the Harvard Law Review. Following graduation he clerked for Judge Henry J. Friendly of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and the following year for then-Associate Justice William H. Rehnquist.

"Following his clerkship experience, Mr. Roberts served as Special Assistant to United States Attorney General William French Smith. In 1982 President Reagan appointed Mr. Roberts to the White House Staff as Associate Counsel to the President, a position in which he served until joining Hogan & Hartson in 1986. Mr. Roberts’ responsibilities as Associate Counsel to the President included counseling on the President’s constitutional powers and responsibilities, as well as other legal issues affecting the executive branch.

"At Hogan & Hartson, Mr. Roberts developed a civil litigation practice, with an emphasis on appellate matters. He personally argued before the United States Supreme Court and the lower federal courts, participating in a wide variety of matters on behalf of corporate clients, trade associations, governments, and individuals.

"Mr. Roberts left the firm in 1989 to accept appointment as Principal Deputy Solicitor General of the United States, a position in which he served until returning to the firm in 1993. In that capacity he personally argued before the Supreme Court and the federal courts of appeals on behalf of the United States, and participated in formulating the litigation position of the government and determining when the government would appeal adverse decisions. Mr. Roberts had general substantive responsibility within the Office of the Solicitor General for cases arising from the Civil and Civil Rights Divisions of the Justice Department, as well as from a variety of independent agencies.

"Mr. Roberts has presented oral arguments before the Supreme Court in more than thirty cases, covering the full range of the Court’s jurisdiction, including admiralty, antitrust, arbitration, environmental law, First Amendment, health care law, Indian law, bankruptcy, tax, regulation of financial institutions, administrative law, labor law, federal jurisdiction and procedure, interstate commerce, civil rights, and criminal law.

"Mr. Roberts is a member of the American Law Institute and the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, and has also received the Edmund J. Randolph Award for outstanding service to the Department of Justice. He is a member of the Bars of the District of Columbia, the United States Supreme Court, and various federal Courts of Appeals."


As Joe at AMERICAblog commented, "This is a whole new ball game. And timed to distract us all from Katrina. ... Karl Rove strikes again." To the list of those things requiring distraction must be added House Majority Leader Thomas D. DeLay, who was indicted on September 28, 2005, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist who is under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission for insider trading, and Rove himself, who is under investigation for his role in the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame.


In the October 1, 2005, "Taking a Dive," "pessimist" of The Left Coaster compared photographs of Roberts and video stills of someone who could clearly be his double:

"The images were taken from video shot inside the Miami Dade County building when GOP activists, led by propagandist Jim Wilkinson (later the head of the Coalition Media Center in Doha during the war, and media at the 2004 GOP convention in New York), stormed the recount. They aimed to stop it with a disruptive protest, charging 'voter fraud.' They claimed, but could not prove, that the Miami election commissioners were stealing votes for Al Gore -- who most observers believe would have won the election if all the votes had been properly counted."

"If it can be shown that Roberts was in Florida assisting with the effort to illegally subvert the will of the people as expressed through voting, that would constitute an act of malfeasance, something necessary to impeach a sitting Supreme Court Justice. Then all we would need would be a Congress that was able to act on this," "pessimist" wrote. "Somehow, thanks to many factors, I suspect that this isn't going to be, and the American Experiment will have ended once and for all. ... I hope Red State America is proud of itself."

Related SourceWatch Resources

External links



Judicial Records & Opposition


Articles & Commentary



John G. Roberts, Jr.: External Links 2005

John G. Roberts, Jr.: External Links 2006