Fortune Interviews Chief Justice John Roberts’ Lesbian Cousin

Michael Petrelis notes a recent Fortune magazine profile of Chief Justice John Roberts in which his lesbian cousin is interviewed:


Roberts is also likely to vote like a conservative if the Court eventually hears the constitutional showdown that Goldstein considers "possibly the case of the century": the challenge to the constitutionality of California's Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot initiative forbidding gay marriage.

Numerous gay-rights cases are now working their way through the lower courts, challenging, for instance, the federal Defense of Marriage Act (which says that if gay marriage is allowed in one state, other states and the federal government need not recognize those marriages) and state laws restricting gay adoption. The Prop 8 case will be the toughest case for the gay-rights side to win, Goldstein explains, because it asks the Court to do the most: Strike down a definition of marriage that has prevailed for most of the country's history and that is still used in all but a handful of states.

"On the one hand," says Goldstein, "is the Supreme Court going to get out in front, when the right hasn't yet been extended by many states? On the other hand, you could say, is the Supreme Court going to have this as its legacy — something where 25 years, 50 years, 75 years later, we'll look back and say, How could we have been so mindless in our hatred? What do you want history books to say?"

At Roberts' confirmation hearings, one of the members of his family that he introduced to the Senators was a cousin named Jean Podrasky.

"I don't know John that well," says Podrasky, 46, in an interview with Fortune, "but he's always been very kind to our family." Roberts gave her a personal tour of the White House as a high school graduation present, she remembers.

Podrasky is gay, as Roberts knows, she says. She lives in San Francisco with her longtime girlfriend. Would she like to be able to get married someday?


Has she ever discussed —

"I really would never disrespect him by asking him about his cases," Podrasky says, interrupting.

Most Supreme Court advocates focus on Justice Kennedy as the likely pivotal vote in the gay-rights cases. But might Roberts also be persuaded to rule that homosexuals have the same right to get married that heterosexuals do?

"No," Goldstein says. "The Chief Justice can say, 'I certainly don't agree with this differential treatment, but this is a social institution that has existed throughout the nation's history, and I'm not going to go so far as to invalidate it.'"

We can also hope that Roberts might draw on his own family's situations when thinking about marriage cases.


  1. Dego says

    Let me get this nailed down:
    She would “never disrespect him by asking him about his cases”; but it is fine for him to disrespect her by pretending that any long-term, committed, loving relationship she has doesn’t effectively exist outside of her bedroom.

    Ok then. That’s clear. Our Society’s perception of our unworthiness is so beaten into us that it is ingrained; and once again, we are much better, even more polite, than our opponents. Eternally to our detriment.

  2. David in Houston says

    The Chief Justice can say, ‘I certainly don’t agree with this differential treatment, but this is a social institution that has existed throughout the nation’s history, and I’m not going to go so far as to invalidate it.'”

    So allowing gay couples to marry will invalidate marriage for straight couples? Shocking! By the way, the CURRENT institution of marriage has only existed for 44 years. Before that, Maggie Gallagher wouldn’t have been able to marry her (invisible) husband.

  3. plaintom says

    This article makes me wonder about the relatives and friends of the other Justices. Theoretically the Justices will rule based upon the isolated merits of the case but realistically they have to be affected by their worldview. Do they personally have any gay friends or family members? We constantly see the far right attempt to depersonalize Gays and portray us as the scary “other” but this strategy collapses when we get to the individual level. The majority of “expert” opinion says if/when the case makes it to The Court, Kennedy will be the swing vote. I simply wonder and hope.

  4. nygardon says

    “…but this is a social institution that has existed throughout the nation’s history, and I’m not going to go so far as to invalidate it.” This same argument was true regarding slavery and women’s right to vote at the time those were invalidated.

  5. ggreen says

    Some one post the Gay Pie photos that surfaced during Roberts confirmation hearing. (He was at an all male picnic)He’s a confirmed bachelor that married late in life with two adopted children and has a very close relationship with his male personal assistant.

  6. willie t boned says

    Yeah the “would never disrespect” bullshit is what elitists thrive on and what allows them to get away with their supremacist crap.

    He is disrespecting HER by never bringing it up.

  7. The Iron Orchid says

    @dego & willie t couldn’t have said it better!!
    If this man was my cousin and we were together at a family gathering, damn straight I would put that question to him!

  8. KJ says

    Of course we Towleroad readers have the opinion, assumedly, skewed in favor of gay marriage. However, a Supreme Court justice does not make decisions based upon family relations or personal experience, but rather upon an understanding, whether right or wrong, of constitutional law as it currently stands. A conservative, seeing that the Constitution is “silent” regarding marriage then will decide that this matter is reserved for the states, and the status quo maintained regardless of the justice’s personal beliefs regarding marriage.

    I’m not saying I agree with that conclusion, but I think that it’s important to understand. It is possible for one to be a strict constitutional constructionist and rest decisions upon that versus personal opinion on any given matter. History provides many illustrations of that, for ill and good, and is the fodder for the nature of many questions during senate hearings preceding confirmation.

  9. TampaZeke says

    How is he supposed to be moved by his gay family member when she herself is giving him the script in advance for what he should say once he votes against marriage equality?

  10. Jason says

    Roberts has never voted in any manner consistent with the last century of Constitutional law; he has voted consistent with Republican policy objectives. His decisions to allow segregation in public schools and expand corporate dominance of elections are shocking rejections of American constitutional law.

    Pretending he and his ilk are “strict constructionists” is at best a very silly euphemism. We’re talking about a man that thinks corporations have constitutional rights, but gays do not. And pretending Roberts makes decisions based on principle is a dangerous mistake.

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