Who Is John G. Roberts Jr.?
July 19, 2005 — -- Bush appointee John G. Roberts Jr., 50, was confirmed to a judgeship on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in 2003, and was sworn in by Chief Justice William Rehnquist, whom he had previously served as a law clerk.
Despite being called the "best Supreme Court advocate of his generation," there had been speculation that Roberts' lack of time on a federal bench -- and thus his relatively small paper trail -- might scare Bush away from nominating him to the Supreme Court, but that was proven not to be an issue.
Roberts is considered to be well-liked on Capitol Hill, and members of both parties have praised him as a man who possesses a keen intellect and a sharp legal mind.
Born in Buffalo, N.Y., Roberts is a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School who argued 39 cases before the Supreme Court and won 25. He was a partner with Hogan & Hartson in Washington, D.C, where he developed a civil litigation practice, with an emphasis on appellate matters.
Roberts was principal deputy solicitor general under President George H.W. Bush, who first nominated him for the D.C. Circuit Court in 1992. He was opposed by Democrats and never received a vote. He was re-nominated in 2001, and his nomination languished until a third nomination by Bush in 2003, when he won unanimous confirmation.
He also was special assistant to U.S. Attorney General William French Smith and served as associate White House counsel for four years under President Reagan.
While deputy solicitor general, Roberts co-signed a brief in Rust v. Sullivan that argued for a ban on federal money for clinics that provided abortions, counseled women about the procedure or referred them to a facility for an abortion. The brief went further than the question presented in the case, arguing that "we continue to believe that Roe was wrongly decided and should be overruled."
In a second abortion-related case, Bray v. Alexandria Women's Health Clinic, Roberts signed a "friend of the court" brief arguing that Operation Rescue was not engaged in a conspiracy to deprive women of their constitutional rights.
Roberts co-authored a brief that argued in favor of clergy-led prayer at public school graduations. The case was Lee v. Weisman, and the government lost.