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Friday, July 14, 2006 

Roberts at the Ninth

Chief Justice John Roberts spoke the yesterday at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. He was one of the guests attending the Ninth's Judicial Conference. Roberts participated in an informal Q&A session. I haven't been able to find much coverage of the event, but I'm curious to see what was discussed.

EDIT: Wow, that was fast. First we have the Chief discussing cameras at the Supreme Court...
"There's a concern (among justices) about the impact of television on the functioning of the institution," Roberts said. "We're going to be very careful before we do anything that might have an adverse impact" on oral arguments.
He noted that the court has increasingly made audiotapes of arguments in major cases available to the media as soon as a hearing ends.

But, he added, "we don't have oral arguments to show the public how we function. We have them to learn about a particular case in a particular way."
Don't expect to see televised oral arguments any time soon.

The topic of Court unanimity came up as well. The first half of the Roberts Court was relatively boring with few split decisions. Here is Roberts taking on some of the journalists and commentators who thought that the divisions later in the term meant that the unanimity was a joke...
"When (Joe) DiMaggio finally ended his hitting streak, sportswriters didn't say, 'He's all washed up.' "
I think it's hard to draw any concrete conclusions from one term with Roberts at the helm. He may be able to narrow the focus of the cases eventually and bring a little sanity to the Court. However, I would bet that we'd need more personnel changes for that to happen.

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