Roberts v. Media Horde

By Marcia Davis
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, August 15, 2005

Wearing a dark gray suit, white shirt and light blue tie, John G. Roberts Jr. was posing for pictures in the office of Sen. Ron Wyden last week. Asked how he was spending his time in the days before the Senate hearings for his Supreme Court nomination, Roberts caused a bit of a stir.

"I'm trying to get ready for the hearings," he said.

That he uttered even a syllable was surprising, considering he is absolutely not supposed to be speaking to the media. Being a U.S. Supreme Court nominee especially means never having to say anything in public, at least until the confirmation hearings begin Sept. 6.

Buttonholed in a Dirksen Building elevator after spending nearly an hour in a private meeting with Wyden, however, he lived up to his reputation for keeping his cool. A reporter had jumped into the elevator alongside him, an aide and former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson, who had been asked by the Bush administration to help maneuver Roberts through the confirmation process.

So tell me again, judge, how you're spending your time before the hearings?

"I'm studying binders and binders" of material, he said.

And where?

"I'm working sometimes at the court and sometimes at home," he continued. Then he joked with a uniformed officer who was also on the elevator. "I thought you were supposed to protect me from things like this." The officer just smiled.

It was the end of the day in a building so deserted that a woman in heels didn't walk down the hall as much as rumble her way past. Roberts had just spent nearly an hour with Wyden, discussing issues ranging from the Terri Schiavo case to Roe v. Wade , Wyden later told reporters. It was Roberts's 45th such meeting. By the end of last week he had clocked 48 meetings with senators, the White House said.

Meetings and studying cases is how he's spending most of his time -- and trying to keep up with his kids, those around him say. Other than that, not much in the routine has changed -- including church on Sunday.

"He continues to have breakfast with his children and wife," said Dana M. Perino, a White House deputy press secretary. "They have dinner together as a family. . . . And he reads to [his children] each night before they go to sleep." She had just spoken to Jane Roberts at work, Perino said.

"When John's not working right now, his life is no different than it was two months ago: Everything revolves around the children," said Richard J. Lazarus, a Georgetown law professor who is Roberts's former Capitol Hill roommate and a close friend.

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