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Monday, May 15, 2006 

Praise for the Chief

I think that everyone has some sort of crush on Chief Justice John Roberts. Via the SCOTUS blog, this article from Bloomberg heaps praise on the Chief and his first term. Here's some praise from the Right...
"He sure looks like he was born to do it," said Theodore Olson, a former U.S. solicitor general and a partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in Washington. "He does it with a certain genuine comfort in that job, which is quite remarkable."
And some from the Left...
"There's a wonderful air of normality about the chief justice as he goes about his business," [Walter] Dellinger [former acting solicitor general] said.
And some whining from the Left...
"He can be very, very aggressive at times," said Elliot Mincberg, legal director of People For the American Way, a Washington advocacy group that opposed Roberts's confirmation. "How that style works out and how that will affect his fellow justices really remains to be seen."
Everyone but PFAW seems to like Roberts on some level. I am pleasantly surprised at what a tough questioner Roberts is during oral argument. He hasn't been biting his tongue. The article has this example...
In a voting rights case in March, he peppered a lawyer for a Mexican-American group with 16 questions in 20 minutes, repeatedly -- and unsuccessfully -- asking her to specify the percentage of Hispanic voters she would find acceptable in a congressional district in Texas.
I think his experience as a Supreme Court litigator has really sharpened his skills in this aspect. He knows game well.

Ted Olson thinks that Roberts' style is making a difference in the cases themselves...
Of the 38 cases resolved so far by signed opinion, 25 came without dissent. Olson speculates Roberts might be letting the justices work through their disagreements at their weekly conferences, which under Rehnquist had become truncated affairs.

"Maybe people are getting things off their chest at conference, and that's producing more unanimous decisions," Olson said.
That may be the case, but it's hard to verify unless one of the Justices actually said so. It seems like there are more unanimous decisions, but there are still many more to go. We'll have to crunch the numbers when the term is over and see if there was actually some effect.

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