8A - Monday, September 14, 2009
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
8A - Monday, September14, 2009 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom A
Roberts: 'Everyone on the court wishes they were John Marshall'
members he was surprised by the
level of camaraderie between the
"We read the same cases, we
read the same briefings, we go to
the same arguments, we struggle
with the same issues and even if we
come out on opposite sides of the
same issue that does create a very
close bond," Roberts said. "You do
feel like a part of the family right
Caminker also asked Roberts
what he would say if President
Barack Obama asked him what
qualities he would like to see in a
new Supreme Court justice.
"He could save alot of trouble by
giving me an extra vote," Roberts
In light of the recent appoint-
ment of Justice Sonia Sotomayor,
an audience member asked Rob-
erts if justices are concerned about
who will fill a vacancy on the court
when one exists.
"There's a great deal of concern,"
Roberts said emphasizing the influ-
ence a justice's vote has and the
long tenure many justices serve.
Another audience member asked
Roberts if he could foresee any
problems he or other members of
the Court may have with Sotomay-
"I think she's going to be a
delightful, wonderful colleague,"
Roberts said. "I feel very privileged
to have the opportunity to serve on
the court with her."
Roberts was also asked if he felt
justices, many who have attended
Ivy League universities, may not be
able to fully grasp the problems of
the common man brought before
"First of all, I disagree with your
premise," Roberts said. "Not all of
the justices went to elite institu-
tions; some went to Yale."
After a hearty laugh by members
of the crowd, Roberts, who attend-
ed Harvard Law School, continued:
"I will pay for that."
Roberts continued to answer the
question by explaining the court's
role as an institution that relies on
lawyers to represent the problems
of their clients and properly edu-
cate the justices on the issues being
Caminker asked Roberts wheth-
er he thought this was a good time
to be the chief justice.
"Everybody on the court wishes
they were John Marshall, but that
is like saying every basketball play-
er wishes they were Michael Jor-
dan," Roberts said.
Another audience member asked
Roberts why the Court is hearing
fewer cases than it historically has.
Roberts responded by saying it's
impossible for anyone to know the
Asked why the Court does not
immediately release the audio
recordings of all oral arguments,
Roberts said he appreciates and
understands the concern, but that
the release of the audio recordings
can change how the process func-
"It's a good question," Roberts
said. "It's sort of an ongoing debate,
and it's obviously not my decision
As is popularly known among
legal circles, the Supreme Court
has a basketball court above the
actual courtroom of the Supreme
Court. Caminker asked Roberts
about his use of the facility, jok-
ingly calling it "the highest court
in the land."
"I did not exhibit the sort ofskills
you'd expect someone from Indiana
to show," Roberts said of his use of
the court's basketball facilities.
One member of the audience
asked Roberts, on the eighth anni-
versary of Sept. 11, how Roberts
made sense of the balance between
security and freedom and if his
opinion of the balance had changed
in the last eight years.
"It is Sept. 11, and I do think
we've gotten to the point where
we've forgotten what that means,"
Roberts said. "It's worth paus-
ing and remembering that people,
younger than most of you here,
are, at this very moment, dying and
defending the freedoms that we all
Roberts continued to say, "It's a
difficult question," and is one that
generalities cannot fully answer.
One audience member asked
Roberts what he would like to see
changed or added to the curricu-
lum for law students.
"I think there ought to be more
focus on a sort of shared educa-
tional experience," Roberts said. "I
think, for example, that everyone
who graduates from a university in
this country ought to know what the
Federalist Papers are; they ought to
know who Shakespeare is."
Roberts continued by saying the
same thing should be true for law
students, saying that all first-year
law students should take classes
that focus on basic topics like a
course on anti-trust or interna-
Many alumni who attended the
event said having Roberts as the
keynote speaker was one of the rea-
sons they decided to come back for
the 150th anniversary celebration.
Dona Tracy, a 1976 Law School
graduate, said the opportunity to
hear Roberts speak was a big draw
for her, and that coming back to the
University made her remember why
she first wanted to be a lawyer.
"It's wonderful to be back,"
Tracy said. "I think what's nice is
that as an attorney that has been
practicing, and I think most attor-
neys feel so involved in the day-to-
day work practicing law, it's nice to
come back to the Law School to be
inspired by the ideals that brought
us here in the first place."
David Weinman, a 1962 graduate
ofthe Law School, said comingback
to campus made him remember his
glory days at the University.
Weinman said while at the Uni-
versity he saw then-President John
F. Kennedy propose the creation
of the Peace Corps on the steps of
the Michigan Union and that the
speech inspired him to found and
become the director of the Peace
Corps program in Turkey.
University President Mary Sue
Coleman, who attended the event,
said she enjoyed listening to Roberts
and was happy he agreed to come to
Ann Arbor for the weekend.
"I loved the session in Hill,"
Coleman said. "It's been a special
thrill to have the chief justice here.
He has given us so much time."
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