The musings of one Andrew Langer - defender of liberty, passionate protector of individual rights, foodie. (Note: Said Musings of Andrew Langer are his own, and the views represented herein are likewise his views, and not the views of any other people, entities, foodstuffs, etc [unless otherwise specifically and explicitly noted].)

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Who Is John Roberts?

Judge John G. Roberts, Jr.
DOB: January 27, 1955
Born in Buffalo, NY. Raised in Indiana
A.B., Harvard, 1976 (Summa Cum Laude in only 3 years)
J.D., Harvard, 1979
Married with two children.
ABA Rating (for his DC Circuit Nomination): Well Qualified, Without Reservation

The following is from the DC Circuit's Biographical Sketch:

"Following graduation from law school, he served as law clerk for Judge Henry J. Friendly of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and the following year to then-Associate Justice Rehnquist of the Supreme Court of the United States. Judge Roberts served as Special Assistant to United States Attorney General William French Smith from 1981 to 1982 and Associate Counsel to President Ronald Reagan from 1982 to 1986. He then joined Hogan & Hartson where he developed a civil litigation practice, with an emphasis on appellate matters. From 1989 to 1993 he served as Principal Deputy Solicitor General of the United States. He returned to Hogan & Hartson in 1993. At the time of his confirmation, Judge Roberts was the senior partner in charge of Hogan & Hartson's appellate practice. He is a member of the American Law Institute and the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers."

Judge Roberts is a quality pick for the President. With exceptionally impeccable credentials, Roberts has argued a tremendous 39 cases before the United States Supreme Court (very few of the members of the US Supreme Court Bar have argued more than one, if that). He has a winning record: 25-14 (batting .641, in other words).

Stuart Taylor, Jr., a columnist for the National Journal and currently a Non-Resident Senior Fellow in Governance Studies for the Brookings Institution, wrote in a 2002 column for the National Journal that, "John Roberts seems a good bet to be the kind of judge we should all want to have β€” all of us, that is, who are looking less for congenial ideologues than for professionals committed to the impartial application of the law.”

When nominated to the DC Circuit, 152 members of the DC Bar said that Judge Roberts, "β€œone of the very best and most highly respected appellate lawyers in the nation, with a deserved reputation as a brilliant writer and oral advocate.” The letter went on to cite his, "unquestioned integrity and fair mindedness."

Tonight in the Democratic response, even Senator Chuck Schumer had to say, "There is no question that Judge Roberts has outstanding legal credentials and an appropriate legal demeanor."

But what about his actual legal record? Let's look at a few key cases:

Federalism and Property Rights

In Rancho Viejo, LLC v. Norton, 334 F.3d 1158 (D.C. Cir. 2003), Judge Roberts, dissenting along with Judge Sentelle, strongly suggested that he questioned the application of the Endangered Species Act to specific species which only exist within a particular state's borders on Commerce Clause grounds. This denotes a committment to a strong view of constitutional federalism, as well as a strong committment to private property rights (of which the ESA is one of the greatest transgressors). Roberts said in that dissent that there was interstate commerce rationale for protecting the toad, which, he said, "for reasons of its own lives its entire life in California."

Separation of Church and State

During his stint in the first Bush administration, wrote an amicus (friend of the court) brief saying that public high schools could include religious traditions in their graduation programs.

The Civil Rights of a 12-Year-old Girl (with thanks to Scotusblog, from which this was directly lifted)

Hedgepeth ex rel. Hedgepath v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, 386 F.3d 1148 (D.C. Cir. 2004). (Writing for a unanimous court, Judge Roberts rejected Fourth Amendment and Equal Protection Clause challenges to the arrest and detention of a twelve-year old girl for eating french fries on a Metro train. The case received some media attention because of its extreme facts--as Judge Roberts noted in the first line of his opinion, "[n]o one is very happy about the events that led to this litigation.

All in all, Judge Roberts is a solid legal scholar with credentials worthy of being a member of the nation's highest court.


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