John Roberts Hub

A Look at Supreme Court Justice John Roberts and Gay Marriage

The Wall Street Journal's Jess Bravin looks at Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and the upcoming case on DOMA and Proposition 8 the Court will be considering at the end of the month:

RobertsChief Justice Roberts doubtless knows "that history is going in a certain direction," even if he isn't persuaded that the Constitution requires invalidation of laws denying recognition to gay marriages, said Richard Pildes, a law professor at New York University. If that leads him to side against Mr. Obama's position, it could place the chief justice in "a tragic kind of position—knowing how a decision they believe is correct today is going to look bad 15 years down the road."...

...Legal experts say that how the chief justice expresses his position on gay marriage—whether he writes his own opinion or joins that of another justice—could be as significant as how he votes. Should he vote to uphold either or both of the laws against gay marriage, his opinions will be parsed for indications of his attitude toward gay couples and whether he writes favorably of political trends that could expand gay marriage without court intervention.

Under that alternative, in 20 years he could say, "See, we said this is a matter for legislative resolution and not judicial resolution, and things turned out well," said Harvard law professor Mark Tushnet. "To be able to do that, the opinion has to be very carefully written to make it clear that the court is taking no position on the merits of gay marriage."

On a side note, the Chairman of the National Organization for Marriage John Eastman smeared Roberts yesterday for giving his adopted children the "second-best" option. Whether that smear has any effect on his thinking about fairness and equality may never be known.

Roberts Worked Behind the Scenes on Gay Rights Case [tlrd]

NOM Chair Calls Supreme Court Justice John Roberts' Decision to Adopt Children a 'Second-Best' Option

A new AP story takes a look at the families of the Supreme Court justices and looks at how their personal lives might affect cases they take on.

SecondbestThe article notes that Justices John Roberts and Clarence Thomas both have adopted children and contains a particularly offensive quote from NOM Chair John Eastman:

"The diversity of the family lives of the justices mirrors the diversity of American families overall," said Andrew Cherlin, a Johns Hopkins University sociologist who studies families and public policy.

Cherlin, who does not follow the high court especially closely, wondered whether the gay marriage cases might take on a similar dynamic. "If justices consider their own family lives in these cases, it may change the way they rule," he said.


Gay marriage opponents said they are not worried about the votes of Roberts and Thomas.

"You're looking at what is the best course societywide to get you the optimal result in the widest variety of cases. That often is not open to people in individual cases. Certainly adoption in families headed, like Chief Roberts' family is, by a heterosexual couple, is by far the second-best option," said John Eastman, chairman of the National Organization for Marriage. Eastman also teaches law at Chapman University law school in Orange, Calif.

President Obama Officially Sworn In For Second Term: VIDEO


President Obama's second term has officially begun!

The president, First Lady Michelle Obama and their daughters joined Chief Justice John Roberts in the White House's Blue Room today for a private swearing in. The president placed his right hand on a copy of the Bible from his wife's collection as he retook the oath of office, an oath he'll take again tomorrow in front of a far larger crowd.

Until then, watch President Obama be sworn in for his second term AFTER THE JUMP.

Continue reading "President Obama Officially Sworn In For Second Term: VIDEO" »

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.

It Goes On: Hillary Clinton Wins Texas, Ohio as McCain Clinches

Wins in Ohio, Texas, and Rhode Island for Hillary Clinton on Tuesday gave her the momentum she needed to continue in the race, although Barack Obama, who won Vermont, still holds a lead in delegates.

Said Clinton: "No candidate in recent history — Democratic or Republican — has won the White House without winning the Ohio primary. We all know that if we want a Democratic president, we need a Democratic nominee who can win Democratic states just like Ohio."

This morning, on CBS' The Early Show, Clinton hinted at a 'dream ticket' with Obama, saying "that may be where this is headed, but we have to decide who is on the top of the ticket."

McCain sealed the Republican nomination.

Full results.

Clinton and Obama's speeches above, McCain's and Huckabee's below (via Talking Points Memo).

road.jpg In Texas, a gay bar toasts Hillary...
road.jpg KOS: Delegate numbers DAUNTING for Clinton.
road.jpg Pam Spaulding: Pollsters flummoxed, Gender, education, and Latino vote mattered...
road.jpg Time to get ugly?
road.jpg Intelligencer: Will Obama be able to enter hand-to-hand combat?
road.jpg Did Clinton campaign darken Obama's skin color in ad leading up to primaries?
road.jpg POLLS: Clinton's late attacks worked.

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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