10 Things You Didn't Know About John Roberts

10 interesting facts about the Supreme Court justice.

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1. Born Jan. 27, 1955, in Buffalo, John Glover Roberts later moved to Long Beach, Ind., with his parents and three sisters, where his father managed a Bethlehem Steel mill. Roberts also worked at a steel mill during high school to help save money for college.

2. He attended an all-male Catholic high school and excelled at Latin. He was reported to have reached a point where he could translate the Aeneid on a par with his teacher. During high school, he played football and wrestled. He also played Peppermint Patty in his boys' school production of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. He was averse to the idea of his high school's opening enrollment to girls and wrote an opinion piece for his high school paper arguing against it.

2. Roberts attended college at Harvard University, the first student from his high school ever to be admitted there. He studied history, wrote a 175-page undergraduate thesis on the fall of British liberalism, and graduated summa cum laude in three years.

3. He entered Harvard Law School in 1976. He became managing editor of the Harvard Law Review—a position also held by Justices Breyer and Scalia.

4. Roberts graduated from law school at the top of his class and began clerking for New York Court of Appeals Judge Henry Friendly in 1979. He then moved to Washington to clerk for Supreme Court Associate Justice William H. Rehnquist, whom he would eventually replace on the bench. In law school, some of his classmates began a Rehnquist Club to honor the judge, but Roberts declined to join.

5. Roberts has long been known to his friends and law partners as politically conservative and reserved. During his career, he also worked for the Justice Department, as associate counsel to Ronald Reagan, and in private practice for the Washington, D.C., firm of Hogan & Hartson.

6. In 1980, he lived in an apartment on Capitol Hill with a friend. They threw a party with two televisions to watch the election returns for the race between President Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.

7. In 1996, Roberts married Jane Sullivan, also an attorney, whom he reportedly met on a blind date. They adopted a daughter, Josephine, and a son, John, who were born within six months of each other.

8. President George H. W. Bush nominated him in 1992 to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals in D.C., but the Senate failed to vote on his nomination before the administration changed and President Bill Clinton entered office. The second president Bush nominated him again for the slot; he was confirmed in 2003.

9. One of the appeals cases he heard and upheld concerned an incident where a 12-year-old girl eating a french fry on the Washington Metro was handcuffed by police. Roberts wrote, "No one is very happy about the events that led to this litigation. A 12-year-old girl was arrested, searched, and handcuffed...all for eating a single french fry in a Metrorail station. ...The district court described the policies that led to her arrest as 'foolish' .... The question before us, however, is not whether these policies were a bad idea but whether they violated the Fourth and Fifth amendments to the Constitution. Like the district court, we conclude that they did not, and accordingly we affirm."

10. Roberts had argued 39 cases as an attorney before the Supreme Court by the time President Bush nominated him in 2005. He won 25 of them. In his nomination-day press conference with Bush, Roberts remarked that it was a humbling moment. "I always got a lump in my throat whenever I walked up those marble steps to argue a case before the court," he said, "and I don't think it was just from the nerves."

Chicago Tribune
Encyclopedia of World Biography
Hedgepeth v. Wash. Metro. Area Transit Auth.
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