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John G. Roberts Jr.

Charles Lane
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 19, 2005; 8:32 PM

John G. Roberts, Jr., 50, was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in 2003 by President Bush.
John G. Roberts, Jr., 50, was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in 2003 by President Bush.
John G. Roberts, 50, has long been considered one of the Republicans' heavyweights amid the largely Democratic Washington legal establishment. Roberts was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in 2003 by President George W. Bush. (He was also nominated by the first President Bush, but never received a Senate vote.) Previously, he practiced law at Washington's Hogan & Hartson from 1986-1989 and 1993-2003. Between 1989 and 1993, he was the principal deputy solicitor general in the first Bush administration, helping formulate the administration's position in Supreme Court cases. During the Reagan administration, he served as an aide to Attorney General William French Smith from 1981 to 1982 and as an aide to White House counsel Fred Fielding from 1982 to 1986.

With impeccable credentials -- Roberts attended Harvard College and Harvard Law School, clerked for Justice William H. Rehnquist on the Supreme Court and has argued frequently before the court -- the question marks about Roberts have always been ideological. While his Republican Party loyalties are undoubted, earning him the opposition of liberal advocacy groups, he is not a "movement conservative," and some on the party's right-wing doubt his commitment to their cause. His paper record is thin: As deputy solicitor general in 1990, he argued in favor of a government regulation that banned abortion-related counseling by federally funded family-planning programs. A line in his brief noted the Bush administration's belief that Roe v. Wade should be overruled.

As a judge on the D.C. Circuit, Roberts voted with two colleagues to uphold the arrest and detention of a 12-year-old girl for eating french fries on the Metro train, though his opinion noted that "[n]o one is very happy about the events that led to this litigation." In another case, Roberts wrote a dissenting opinion that suggested Congress might lack the power under the Constitution's Commerce Clause to regulate the treatment of a certain species of wildlife.


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