Interview With Chief Justice Roberts

CRAWFORD GREENBURG: So do you think you would have been different as a justice if you had been taking Justice O'Connor's place in terms of the way you would right your opinions?

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: You know your view of the law doesn't change no matter what position you're occupying on the bench. But I do think it's natural for someone who's a chief justice to feel a certain responsibility for making sure the court functions well as a court, bring as many justices on board a particular opinion and decision as possible, try to make sure the court speaks with as much a single voice as it can, and to make sure that everybody's participating as fully as possible in the collegial process.

I think it's just natural that a chief justice would feel that responsibility.

CRAWFORD GREENBURG: Alright. The chief justice. He did have those stripes on his robe. He had gold bars on his robe. You didn't, you're different that way.

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Yes, with different sartorial tastes I guess. I decided early on that you have to earn the stripes. So I left them off.

CRAWFORD GREENBURG: Now that was because of opera, right?

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Well, he says he went and saw a Gilbert and Sullivan performance, where the Lord Chancellor was there and had the stripes and I've heard different stories. As I understand it, his idea is this would be a good thing for all of the justices to put these stripes on their robes and he proposed it and, of course, as you might expect, the other eight were horrified.

And Justice Rehnquist could be a stubborn man and I think he liked them and he was going to keep them on no matter what the other eight did, and so he kept them on.

CRAWFORD GREENBURG: Do you like opera?

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: I go to the opera. It's mostly my wife that's a bigger fan, I'd say, than I am. I like the big opera. I want a lot of people on stage, elephants and marching stuff, and the modern stuff I don't care for.

CRAWFORD GREENBURG: So what kind of music do you like? Do you have an I-pod?

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: No, no. I'm not as technologically adept as you might think. Some of the other justices are much more sophisticated with the electronics than I am.

CRAWFORD GREENBURG: But you use a computer.

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Yes, yes, I do.

CRAWFORD GREENBURG: You write your opinions on a computer.

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: No, I don't, no.

CRAWFORD GREENBURG: By hand?

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: By hand, yes.

CRAWFORD GREENBURG: All of your drafts.

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Yes, all by hand. I don't type on the computer or edit. Law students who went to law school really just a couple years after I did were brought up all on the computers and that's how they do it, but I was still part of the older school.

CRAWFORD GREENBURG: How do you do the footnotes?

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: You just say it goes in the footnotes and circle it.

CRAWFORD GREENBURG: Thinking about after you finished clerking for the chief justice, you went and worked in the Reagan Administration and then you worked in the HW Bush Administration.

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Right.

CRAWFORD GREENBURG: And as part of that you actually interviewed judges or perspectives. What kind of qualities were you looking for? What questions did you ask?

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