Interview With Chief Justice Roberts

We don't sit in little clumps as one group or another group. We sit…

CRAWFORD GREENBURG: You don't have the leftwing and the rightwing and the center?


CRAWFORD GREENBURG: And how do you get to be that swing justice anyway?

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Well, you know, in different cases, different justices can occupy the position of deciding between the majority and the minority. It is not an accurate depiction of how we go about our work. I appreciate it might be easy shorthand for people to try to understand how the results look, but we approach them as individuals.

We operate as a collegial court. We try to get as much benefit from the wisdom that everybody has to offer as we can.

CRAWFORD GREENBURG: Which Justice would you say most closely resembles your views in terms of the constitution?

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: I will not pick out any one, because there are some that have a similar view in some areas and others in other areas. Not everybody has the same view of the First Amendment, which I know is of very great importance to those of you in the media, as they have of the Seventh Amendment, which is the right to a jury trial, as they have in the due process clause.

Each of the justices has a different perspective. What's important, I think, is to try to bring people together as much as possible to present a uniform view of the court, but everybody has a different perspective to offer and I don't think we're like anyone across the board.

CRAWFORD GREENBURG: Now we've got a few questions from students as president Shalala said, so I'm going to read you a few.

Patty Garvito, who's a junior from Miami asked 'What was your favorite and least favorite class in college?

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: You know I was a history major. I loved the history classes. The course I took in modern English history was my favorite. I had to take a science course to satisfy that and that was, fortunately, a physics course that was called physics for poets, which was a little lighter. But it was still my least favorite.

CRAWFORD GREENBURG: When did you decide on a career in law?

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Not until I was in law school.

CRAWFORD GREENBURG: Let me rephrase that question.. Why did you go to law school?

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: I enjoyed history very much and I would have liked to have been a history teacher, but there weren't any jobs and so I thought I should go to law school and maybe even teach legal history. But I found I enjoyed the first year of law school very much.

It had a sharpness to it, a discipline that had been missing from the more academic pursuits as a history major in college that I really enjoyed, and so I gave up the history then and focused on the law.

CRAWFORD GREENBURG: Quite a few students asked because they have aspirations of being a Supreme Court justice themselves some day, when did you first start thinking, 'I'd like to be a judge or justice?'

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: You know, when I was a lawyer, arguing in front of the court for many years, you begin to think about what it must be like on the other side. You spend your career trying to focus arguments, develop reasoning to appeal to people on the bench, and, you know, when I had done that for many years, I began to think, "Well, it might be nice to have the opportunity to do that."

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