Chief Justice John Roberts Suffers Seizure at Maine Summer Home

Chief Justice John Roberts had a “benign idiopathic seizure” on a dock at his summer home in Maine and was transported, conscious, to a nearby hospital, where he was to remain overnight.

RobertsThe seizure, described as idiopathic because the cause is unknown, is similar to one he suffered 14 years ago. Senators were reportedly aware of the earlier seizure when they confirmed Roberts in 2005. Roberts is the youngest justice on the Supreme Court at age 52.

The NYT reports: “Statistically, he said, it is ‘extremely unlikely’ that this seizure represents a brain tumor. Fewer than 5 percent of those with recurrent seizures have brain tumors as a cause, and a very slowly progressing brain tumor would be rare. Epilepsy is a common condition among Americans. The approximate risk of having a single seizure in one’s lifetime is 9 percent. By Chief Justice Roberts’s age, the risk is 7 to 8 percent. About 3 percent have a recurrence, and 1 percent of Americans at any one time are under treatment for epilepsy.”

Doctors admitted it would be difficult to pinpoint the cause of the seizure, making it hard to determine whether medication would be necessary.

Chief Justice Is Hospitalized After Seizure [nyt]

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  1. Jonathon says

    Dan, you’re exactly right.

    I do wish Justice Roberts good health, even though I think that he is grossly unqualified to be a Supreme Court Justice. The last thing that we need right now is for Bush to be able to appoint yet another far-right justice – and yes, there’s little doubt in my mind that Scalia would be named Chief Justice were Roberts to step down or become incapacitated.

  2. anon ( says

    It would be nice if a Democratic congress could pass some laws in our favor too. Have any passed yet??

    What they didn’t mention was stroke, which is a nasty prospect for a justice.

  3. Dan says

    You may disagree with his opinions, but Roberts is a brilliant, capable man. He’s admired by Republicans and Democrats, and is no lightweight. Now Harriet Miers, she was unqualified! Thank God she didn’t get in.

  4. Derrick from PHilly says

    Harriet Miers probably wouldn’t have been a right-wing facist–with a contempt for the achievements/civil liberties & rights granted us by the Warren/Burger courts. I’m one of the few leftest loonies who wanted her appointed. I don’t know if one has to have judicial experience to be appointed to the Supreme Court–it’s just an unquestioned tradition, isn’t it? Wasn’t there once talk of Bill Clinton putting former Senator John Mitchell on the court? What senator would vote against the appointment of an esteemed collegue?

    Well, I hope Justice Roberts’ health holds up until early 2009, then allow fate to take over.

  5. ggreen says

    With democrats in charge of the Senate and will be until 2009 and the republicans screaming filibuster 24/7. Dimwit Bush has no chance of appointing another Supreme Court justice. As far as Justice Roberts’ return to the court, I’d advise him to lay off the Viagra/Poppers combination.

  6. Jonathon says

    Dan, Roberts is a corporatist and a right-wing ideologue. He may be “brilliant” and “capable” in terms of his abilities as a lawyer, but he lacks the objectivity one needs as a judge – and particularly as a Supreme Court justice.

    Miers would have been no different, Derrick. She’s been stuck right up GW’s ass for most of her career. To think that she’d be independent once she was on the Court is very wishful thinking.

    While there may not be a Constitutional requirement that Supreme Court justices be qualified attorneys, it is hard to imagine in this day and age how one could serve at the SCOTUS and be able to follow cases without some expertise in the law, particularly in regards to understanding precedents and how to interpret the Constitution.

    BTW, if Roberts had been appointed by a Democrat instead of a Republican, do you think that the conservative blogs would be wishing Roberts good health or instead demanding that he step down for health reasons?

  7. Ryno says

    Thanks, Dan, for the sanity. You can say a lot of things about Roberts, but you can’t say he doesn’t have a brain. I disagree with many of his judgments in the last session, but I would much rather have a swift mind on the court than a dimwit who might share my political views.

    Harriet Miers, while seemingly more moderate in her views was a true Bushie. There’s no doubt in my mind that she would put personal loyalty to the president over an independent interpretation of the law. She’s more or less a female Gonzales, and her fingerprints are all over the shenanigans at Justice. Would you really want that on the court?

  8. Derrick from Philly says

    Yeah, now that y’all reminded me of where and how Gonzales was invented, I guess Harriet Miers would have been the same. It’s just that I remember some right-wingers criticized her for some of her “liberal” leanings when she was down in Texas doing whatever it was she did there.

    Well, the federal bench has always been the “gift” that Republican presidents have used to pacify the right-wing of their party. We’ll just have to live with Justice Roberts.

    I wonder how Justices Thomas’ and Scalia’s blood pressures are doin’ these days.

  9. John says

    Well, the wussy Democrats can only blame themselves for Roberts and Alito. They could’ve filibustered them. But as usual, they’re too chicken to do anything principled. Heck, even when they’re in charge, they still cave into every one of Bush’s ridiculous demands. Nancy and Harry give new meaning to the phrase “cheese eating surrender monkeys.” But, I digress.

    I just hope John Paul Stevens lives to be 110. He’s an awesome judge. And he seems to get more liberal as he ages. So, I figure by the time he hits the century mark…he’ll be a regular Robert Kennedy.

    Besides, an 87 year old Republican who doesn’t think homosexuality is a mental illness, or proudly tell stories about how Strom Thurmond saved ‘Merika from those Negros. Who would’ve thought it possible?

  10. DB says

    “but I would much rather have a swift mind on the court than a dimwit who might share my political views”

    Why? Because you know your rights are being taken away by someone with a high IQ?

    My only hope is that if he does die he’ll do it after the next presidential election.

  11. Leland says

    Listen up! I’m only going to say this about a thousand times so pay attention. WHAT THE FUCK KIND OF SUNDAY SCHOOL WORLD DO MOST OF YOU SEEM TO THINK YOU’RE LIVING IN???

    1. The Bush Reich would never have submitted anyone for the Court whom they were not certain was in their ideological pocket. Just because he’s soft-spoken and doesn’t foam at the mouth they way Anton We Miss You Adolf Scalia doesn’t mean he’s any less dangerous.

    2. He LIED to the Senate, saying he would not reverse any significant Court precedent. “Judges have to have the humility to recognize that they operate within a system of precedent, shaped by other judges equally striving to live up to the judicial oath.” Then, once on the bench, he leads the majority to overturn Brown v. the Board of Education. BROWN V. THE BOARD OF EDUCATION!!!!!! What Stonewall was to the gay equality movement, Brown v. was and much, much more to the Black equality movement and reversing of decades of racist decisions by our judicial system which had empowered. No greater proof exists of his true colors [no pun intended]. And no greater proof exists of how Orwellian-passive Americans have become than that mass demonstrations did not occur in front of the Court building and in every major city.

    There are places in the US still trying to enforse sodomy laws despite the fact that the Court overturned them in 2003. If the “Roberts Court” can reverse Brown v., considered one of the finest hours in America’s history, pity we poor sodomites. Repugs have been stacking the federal judiciary even before the Bush Reich [what the hell do you think the Gonzalez scandal is about—whether to bring refried or black beans to the Justic Department Cinco de Mayo party????]. And their anti-equality rulings from state-to-state are likely to force more and more appeals to the Court for what’s that word again, oh yeah: justice.

    3. And the “Roberts Court” is exactly what every professional observor agrees it is. Meaning he uses that brilliant brain some of you fag Repugs are jacking off about and his Right Wing zealot’s obsession to twist and turn and bully the majority of other justices his way.

    4. Totally agree the Dems might have fought harder to keep him and Alito off, but maybe they knew that the Repugs would succeed in their threat to change Senate rules and bar judicial filibusters. But now that Dems have not just the Senate majority but also control the Judiciary Committee there is reason to believe no Bush Reich nominee would be approved in the time he has left in office. Roberts snowed some of them in his hearings. After Brown v., don’t expect them to be as gullible again.

    5. Scalia’s becoming Chief could actually work in our favor ASSUMING no ideologue would fill Robert’s or another’s seat. Scalia is such an arrogant, aggressive, naked, unapologetic fascist that his horned heavy hand could well backfire.

    6. The Repugs figured out long ago that it matters far less who is in Congress or even the White House. Supremes, once approved, can serve for life. Roberts is 50. He could be cutting down American’s rights like so many weeds for another 35 YEARS! Pray for his health; send the slick con man fucking posies if you want. But pray he does NOT return to the Court.

  12. Rey says

    Thanks, Leland, for the sanity check.

    I wish for him a speedy recovery but pray he takes this as a sign from God that he needs to back away slowly from the Supreme Court.

  13. Leland says

    Should have read:

    What Stonewall was to the gay equality movement, Brown v. was and much, much more to the Black equality movement, and reversed decades of racist decisions by our judicial system which had empowered racist oppression and violence throughout the country.

  14. Derrick from Philly says

    Well, we agree with you, Leland. But what are we supposed to do? Bump him off? There are no great gay assasins anymore. They died with Disco.

  15. Zeke says

    I’m struck by the ignorance of the statements here that claim that if something happens to Roberts Bush will get to add ANOTHER ultra-conservative justice to the Court.

    Would someone care to explain the logic behind that bizarre statement?

    At WORST all Bush could do is REPLACE an EXISTING conservative with another conservative. Net conservative gain? ZERO. Besides the Dems will not be fooled, threatened or railroaded again. No one with Roberts’ neo-conservative credentials will make it past the current judiciary committee or the new Senate.

    I wish Roberts a speedy recovery because he is a human being, regardless of what I think about his opinions, and not because of what his death or incapacitation would do to the ideological makeup of the Court.

  16. Ben says

    I’m not a big fan of the man, but I won’t wish him ill.

    Incidentally, as someone asked this earlier: previous judicial experience is not required to serve on the Court – John Marshall, Roger Taney and Earl Warren had never been judges before they were named chief justice. Harriet Miers wasn’t disqualified by not having been a judge; she was disqualified because she had no real experience of not aside from being Bush’s lawyer, and because she was seen as too liberal by the Reichspartei (I mean, the GOP).

  17. peterparker says

    As usual, Leland has communicated exactly what I think…only he says it better than I would. And as for you people who are saying things along the lines of “Well, I disagree with him, but I wish him well.”…let me assure you, not only does Roberts not give a FLYING FUCK about you or your rights, he’ll be around for forty more years continuing not to give a rat’s ass about you!!! I hope the motherfucker has another seizure and dies. Soon.

  18. Alan says

    As usual, I am struck by how the Web empowers people to be bitter, thoughtless, and vicious because they have nothing better to do but vent their spleens.

    In this case, people wish Roberts were dead while claiming that the rights of gay people are dependent on the Supreme Court.

    Worse, they claim that gay people who have bravely fought for gay rights for decades don’t matter unless the Supreme Court says they do.

    WE are the guarantors of Civil Rights. The Supreme Court is not.

  19. peterparker says


    I, for one, am neither vicious nor thoughtless. But I sure as hell am bitter and angry.

    I’m bitter and angry that the Supreme Court is now dominated by a bunch of ideologues who would sooner shoot themselves than decide cases in such a way that guarantee GLBT citizens have the same rights as every other American. But I’m even more bitter and angry about the fact that countless GLBT Americans are more interested in knowing who got kicked off of American Idol this week or who did Paris-fucking-Hilton screw over the weekend than they are in protesting our treatment by the U.S. government.

    And, yes, Alan, the rights of gay people are largely dependent upon the Supreme Court. In fact, the *only* way we will ever achieve equality is through the court system. The straight majority will continue to remain ignorant of GLBT culture which insures we will never gain equality through the ballot box. And the legislatures are too cowardly to take measures to protect us for fear of losing their jobs to the straight majority I just mentioned. So, yeah, Alan…our rights are ultimately dependent upon the U.S. Supreme Court.


  20. Alan says


    We’ll have to agree to disagree.

    The historical fact is that the “liberal” court of 1986 reduced gay rights to nothing by claiming “there is no constitutional right to sodomy” in Bowers vs. Hardwick.

    Since that time, we have changed the culture and the laws by influencing our friends and our neighbors and the law of the land.

    This is how change happens. It happens when gay people come out to co-workers and family members and neighbors, and get them on our side.

    It is harder and tougher than hiring lawyers and filing lawsuits.

    In the meantime, the hyperbole about what the Roberts Court has decided is silly.


  21. peterparker says


    I agree with you that coming out of the closet to friends and familly is one of the most important acts GLBT people have in changing the hearts and the minds of the rest of America. However, I think that is basically a numbers game in which we are bound to always come up short. There will simply never be enough of us (and our friends) to counteract the ignorance and bigotry of the rest of the populace. I maintain that the judicial system is the only way we will ever achieve legal equality in this country. It won’t be via the ballot box, nor via the legislature. But I suppose we will have to let history take its course before we will know which one of us is correct.


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