Who is John Roberts?


Today, the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court chief justice nominee- John G. Roberts Jr. continued. As United States senators attempt to decode Roberts’ judicial ideology the American people undertake the same endeavor.

Not much is known about the man who will likely serve as the next Supreme Court justice and quite possibly the next chief justice of the United States.

To many, in the African American community, the Supreme Court justice nominee is simply the  U.S. Court of Appeals judge that upheld the arrest of 12-year-old, African American child for eating french fries on a Metro train in Washington, D.C. and nothing more.

Tasherie Amerol, a sophomore majoring in liberal studies at California State University, Long Beach, said our country stands to lose much in judicial expertise if Roberts receives the nominations for both Supreme Court justice and chief justice of the United States.

Still, some may believe otherwise based on Roberts’ credentials alone.Roberts boasts an impressive resume. He attended Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He clerked for Justice William H. Rehnquist on the Supreme Court and has argued frequently before the Supreme Court. He practiced law at Washington’s Hogan & Hartson from 1986-1989 and 1993-2003.

Between 1989 and 1993, he was the principal deputy solicitor general in the first Bush administration, helping to formulate the administration’s position in Supreme Court cases. During the Reagan administration, he served as an aide to Attorney General William French Smith from 1981 to 1982 and as an aide to White House counsel Fred Fielding from 1982 to 1986.

However, it is not Roberts’ resume that is on trial. Today his ideological views on judicial precedents will come into question when senators begin their interrogating.

Loyal to his Republican base, Roberts is a pro-life, anti-affirmative, strict constitutionalist, but the rest Roberts’ record is paper thin. According to an article in the Washington Post Roberts has never filed a lawsuit, addressed a jury, cross-examined a witness, took a deposition or negotiated a deal. Roberts has managed to veer far away from controversial cases. As deputy solicitor general in 1990, he did argue in favor of a government regulation that banned abortion-related counseling by federally funded family-planning programs, but the case was by no means a head-turner.

Marvin Green, a sophomore legal studies major at Indian State University, is most concerned about the issue of women’s rights under Roberts’ leadership. Green said,”People of color have many of their rights to worry about [should Roberts be confirmed] but Roberts is known for supporting the weakening of women’s right to choose. To put someone who holds those ignorant opinions as Chief Justice and not fear for your rights just might be a little insane.

Despite Roberts’ obvious dedication to a conservative interpretation of the constitution, his legal background makes both Democrats and Republicans nervous. Democrats fear the worst: the reversal of Roe v. Wade and affirmative action legislation. While his fellow Republican Party is undoubted, earning him the opposition of liberal advocacy groups, he is not a "movement conservative," and some on the party’s right-wing doubt his commitment to their cause.

“I come before the committee with no agenda. I have no platform,” Roberts said to the panel yesterday, according to the Associated Press.

Robin Kindred, a senior biology major at HowardUniversity said, “Roberts’ record gives us very little to judge him by. We don’t know anything about him. During the confirmation no one is going to ask Roberts the controversial questions that will allow us to see who he really is. I feel like his nomination has already been decided.”