Interview With Chief Justice Roberts

CRAWFORD GREENBURG: So you go out, reporters and cameras everywhere and the president is heaping praise on you and your wife and children are there and your 5-year-old son starts fidgeting…

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Well, I'm there standing and the president is announcing the nomination. I'm trying to think what to say in response and I look over and see my wife and two children. Then I look over and see my wife and one child. And it wasn't our fault, to be perfectly honest. It was late, it was past their bedtime.

CRAWFORD GREENBURG: Was it around 9:00?

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: It was 9:00 and we didn't realize. I kind of thought, when they said, "Please, bring the kids," sure. And it's an important moment, I figured they should be there, but I kind of assumed they'd be off, like way in the back up there or something while it was all going on.

And jus before the announcement, someone told Jane, "All right, go after the kids and stand there right next to the lectern." And Jane immediately said, "Well, that's not a very good idea," but it was boom, boom, boom and they were standing there. People think Jack was dancing. He was not dancing. He was being Spiderman. He was shooting the webs off…

CRAWFORD GREENBURG: But did he think the cameras were there for him? Was he performing?

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Yes, you know, there were spotlights and he figured, 'I might as well take advantage of it.' And I remember thinking—well, what I was thinking was what any father and husband would think, which is why isn't Jane doing anything. And later on, on the ride home, she explained, and I think quite correctly, that if she had tried to do anything, there was no telling what Jack would have done and it would have escalated a little bit.

But the cameras were at the president's shoulders and above, so we got through it all right.

CRAWFORD GREENBURG: Could you hear the president or was it distracting?

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: No. I kind of pretended it wasn't happening and just tried to listen to what was going on.

CRAWFORD GREENBURG: So you got the kids home, got them in bed. Then you spent the next month or six weeks getting ready for your hearings?

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Yes.

CRAWFORD GREENBURG: And then the weekend before they were to begin, the chief justice died?

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Yes. It was a Saturday night and the hearings—before Labor Day, the hearings were supposed to start Tuesday. So I had actually gone to bed early to get rested up for them and Jane came up and woke me up and told me the sad news.

CRAWFORD GREENBURG: And, of course, you had clerked for Chief Justice Rehnquist when he was associate justice with Dean. When did you get the sense that the president was thinking about you and was planning to nominate you to take your old boss's place?

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: The next day he called, the president called and asked me to come down to the White House to talk to him then.

CRAWFORD GREENBURG: And you went down that afternoon?

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Went down and we talked that afternoon. He didn't make a decision, at least didn't share it with me until the next morning.

CRAWFORD GREENBURG: So that was right before he announced?

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Yes, yes.

CRAWFORD GREENBURG: Because he announced it that next morning?

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: That morning, the morning of Labor Day, yes.

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