When he replaced William H. Rehnquist as chief justice, Roberts was expected be a conservative force but more moderate and conciliatory that his predecessor.
The son of a steel executive, John Glover Roberts, Jr., was born in Buffalo, New York. When he was at a young age, his family moved to the affluent town of Long Beach, Indiana. He and his three sisters grew up in a devoutly Roman Catholic, upper middle-class family. He attended a Roman Catholic
Roberts was an outstanding undergraduate student at Harvard University, where he won a competitive award for an essay on Marxism and Bolshevism. During the summers he worked in a steel mill. Afer graduating summa cum laude in 1973, he studied at Harvard Law School, where he was managing editor of the law review. Again, he graduated summa cum laude in 1979.
After his graduation, he worked one year as a law clerk at the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. During 1980 and 1981, he served as law clerk for Associate Justice William H. Rehnquist.
During his two years on the District of Columbia Circuit, Roberts authored forty-nine opinions, including three dissents. In his analysis of these opinions, law professor Cass Sunstein
On July 19, 2005, shortly after Sandra Day O’Connor
While presiding over the Supreme Court on October 3--the first day of the 2005-2006 session--Roberts wore a plain black robe without the gold sleeve-bars of the former chief justice. During the course of his first session, he made a favorable impression on most observers. He was consistently prepared and extremely polite, and he avoided polemics. Although many decisions under Roberts were settled by 5-4 margins, as was true of the Rehnquist Court, Roberts’s conciliatory tone appeared to promote more of a spirit of collegiality. During his first year on the Court, there was not much evidence that he was having much influence on the convictions of the other justices, and he voted with the minority about as often as he was on the side of the majority.
Roberts appeared to take a broad view of the prerogatives of government, especially in the area of criminal justice. For example, while the Court was examining the case dealing with Oregon’s doctor-assisted suicide law,
Roberts usually voted with the more conservative wing of the Court, although not as consistently as Justice Samuel Alito. Whenever the court divided into 5-4 votes, Roberts almost invariably voted with the conservatives (with Anthony M. Kennedy being the swing vote). During his first session, Roberts was on the same side as conservative justice Clarence Thomas in 82 percent of the decisions, whereas he only agreed with liberal justice John Paul Stevens in 35 percent of the cases.
Dworkin, Ronald. “Judge Roberts on Trial,” New York Review of Books 52 (October 20, 2005): 14-17. “John Robert’s Biography,” Supreme Court Debates 8 (November, 2005): 197-224. Neubauer, David. Battle Supreme: The Confirmation of Chief Justice John Roberts and the Future of the Supreme Court. Belmont, Calif.: Thomson/Wadsworth, 2005. O’Connor, Sandra Day. “The New Face of America’s High Court,” Time, May 8, 2006, 64. Taylor, William L. “The Nominee,” New York Review of Books, October 6, 2005, 30-35. Thomas, Evan, and Stuart Taylor, Jr. “John Roberts,” Newsweek, August 1, 2005, 23-34.
Alito, Samuel A., Jr.
Burger, Warren E.
Hudson v. Michigan
Nominations to the Court
Rehnquist, William H.
Senate Judiciary Committee