John Glover Roberts Jr. born January 27, 1955 is an American lawyer who serves as the 17th and current Chief Justice of the United States. He took his seat on September 29, 2005, having been nominated by President George W. Bush after the death of Chief Justice William Rehnquist. He has been described as having a conservative judicial philosophy in his jurisprudence.
Roberts was born in Buffalo, New York but grew up in northwest Indiana and was educated in a private school. He then attended Harvard College and Harvard Law School, where he was a managing editor of the Harvard Law Review. After being admitted to the bar, he served as a law clerk for Judge Henry Friendly and then Rehnquist before taking a position in the Attorney General’s office during the Reagan Administration. He went on to serve the Reagan administration and the George H. W. Bush administration in the Department of Justice and the Office of the White House Counsel, before spending 14 years in private law practice. During this time, he argued 39 cases before the Supreme Court. Notably, he represented 19 states in United States v. Microsoft Corp.
In 2003, Roberts was appointed as a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit by George W. Bush. During his two-year tenure on the D.C. Circuit, Roberts authored 49 opinions, eliciting two dissents from other judges, and authoring three dissents of his own. In 2005, Roberts was nominated to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court, initially to succeed retiring Sandra Day O’Connor. When Rehnquist died before Roberts’s confirmation hearings began, Bush instead nominated Roberts to fill the chief justice position.
Roberts has authored the majority opinion in many landmark cases, including Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1, Shelby County v. Holder, and National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius.
Roberts took the Constitutional oath of office, administered by Associate Justice John Paul Stevens at the White House, on September 29. On October 3, he took the judicial oath provided for by the Judiciary Act of 1789 at the United States Supreme Court building, prior to the first oral arguments of the 2005 term.
Justice Antonin Scalia said that Roberts “pretty much run[s] the show the same way” as Rehnquist, albeit “let[ting] people go on a little longer at conference but he’ll get over that.” Roberts has been portrayed as a consistent advocate for conservative principles by analysts such as Jeffrey Toobin. Garrett Epps has described Roberts’s prose as “crystalline, vivid, and often humorous”.
Seventh Circuit Judge Diane Sykes, surveying Roberts’s first term on the court, concluded that his jurisprudence “appears to be strongly rooted in the discipline of traditional legal method, evincing a fidelity to text, structure, history, and the constitutional hierarchy. He exhibits the restraint that flows from the careful application of established decisional rules and the practice of reasoning from the case law. He appears to place great stock in the process-oriented tools and doctrinal rules that guard against the aggregation of judicial power and keep judicial discretion in check: jurisdictional limits, structural federalism, textualism, and the procedural rules that govern the scope of judicial review.” The Chief Justice is ranked 50th in the 2016 Forbes ranking of “The World’s Most Powerful People.
Roberts is one of 13 Catholic justices—out of 111 justices total—in the history of the Supreme Court. Of those thirteen justices, four (Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Sonia Sotomayor) are currently serving. Roberts married Jane Sullivan in Washington in 1996. She is an attorney, a Catholic, and a trustee (along with Clarence Thomas) at her alma mater, the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. The couple adopted two children, John (Jack) and Josephine (Josie).
According to a 16-page financial disclosure form Roberts submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee prior to his Supreme Court confirmation hearings, his net worth was more than $6 million, including $1.6 million in stock holdings. At the time Roberts left private practice to join the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2003, he took a pay cut from $1 million a year to $171,800; as Chief Justice, his salary is $255,500 as of 2014. Roberts also holds a one-eighth interest in a cottage in Knocklong, an Irish village in County Limerick.
In August 2010, Roberts sold his stock in Pfizer, which allowed him to participate in two pending cases involving the pharmaceutical maker. Justices are required to recuse themselves in cases in which they own stock of a party.