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tv   Joan Biskupic The Chief  CSPAN  December 24, 2019 11:00pm-12:01am EST

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rounds of thomas hearings and nobody remembers that. everybody remembers the second that you not think it can happen twice in three years. but house. thank you very much. as we talk with you and the book is just as on trial and why not confirmation in the future of the supreme court. thank you very much. . . .
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[applause] good evening, everyone and welcome to the new york historical society. i'm the president and ceo and i'm thrilled to see all of you in our beautiful auditorium this evening. tonight's program the life and turbulent times of chief justice john roberts is a part of our distinguished speakers series and as always i would like to thank you for your tremendous support which has enabled us to bring so many fine speakers to the stage. [applause] i'd also like to recognize and
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thank a number of trustees that have joined us this evening susan, joel, james reed and i'd like to think each and every one of you coming of michael weinberg. how did you not appear on my list. in any event, i'd like to thank each and every one of you for joining us this evening and for all the work you do on behalf of new york historical. and i should say leading up to the weekend with history and just a couplin justa couple of o give special recognition to the chair of the chairman of the council and deputy cochair so thank you especially and thanks to the council members here with us tonight.
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a note card and pencil when you entered this evening, they are going up and down with pencils and/or questions on the note cards will be collected later on in the program. there will be a book signing this evening following the program, and copies of the book will be available for purchase in the end my history store. we are thrilled to welcome john to the new york historical this evening. she is a legal analyst a for cnn and previously served as an editor for legal affairs at reuters and the correspondent for the "washington post" and for usa today. she's also a pulitzer prize finalist and the author of books on sandra day o'connor and sonya
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sotomayor. her book is the turbulent times of chief justice roberts. and as i said, it's available for purchase. back to the new york historical and moderated this evening she's the chief washington correspondent for the journal and for the u.s. supreme court for more than 30 years. she's a regular contributor to the supreme court in ... to the news hour and she has written for publications such as though, ms. magazine and the roberts court. make sure anything that makes noise like cell phones or switched off and now please join me in welcoming our guests this
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evening. thank you. [applause] good evening. it's wonderful to be back with all of you tonight and especially wonderful to be here with my friends, my colleague, supreme court watcher as i am to talk about jones terrific new book about the chief justice of the united states john roberts junior. i'm going to start tonight by giving all of us a sense of john roberts the man before we talk about john roberts the justice on the supreme court. so, i want to start with a letter that you had reprinted in your book and this is a letter john roberts roa wrote when he s 13-years-old to the head of an all male catholic high school he wanted to attend.
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it was started the main reason i would like to attend is to get a better education. i've always wanted to stay ahead of the crowd and i feel the competition has forced me to work as hard as i can. at an ordinary high school he would probably be easy to stay ahead. i realize it would be a lot of study and hard work but i feel confident that these believers will pay off in large amount when it comes time to apply for admission to college. i'm sure by attending and doing my best i will assure myself to find future. fine future. i won't be content to get a good job by getting a good education. i want the best job by getting the best education. sincerely yours.
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[alarm sounding] okay, we need a little guidance here. show and told me this is why she wants new yorkers. fire alarm goes off, you get up, walk out, nobody has to tell you what to do. you are pros. [applause] did you hold that thought about that later i hope so. i read it to my husband and the first thing out of his mouth if he didn't write that, his mother did. [laughter] i have a feeling this was all john roberts and i wanted to ask you do we see in this letter the man he would become and where did this come from? the sources said he was wired
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for success. >> he did write the letter himself and i did talk to him about it. even from a young age one of the anecdotes i got is how she went over to the roberts house for dinner and the first thing the mother said was he got all a's on his report card and the uncle pulled out a dollar bill for him. this is well before he wrote a letter so i think that he was ready to write that kind of letter when he was 13 and you do see him standing up from the crowd. the school was character forming for him. it had opened in northern indiana just a few years before he was of high school age so perfect timing and of course he gets in and is first in his class. i think that letter revealed his determination and focus. the line about i don't just want a good job, i want a great job
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that i don't want to be an associate justice, i want to be the chief justice. you can feel some of that and of course he didn't get to decide, a lot of factors went into him becoming the chief, but he's certainly been on the trajectory straight off since then. >> i wanted to ask you, we are going to jump forward now to john roberts the adult and father. he gave a very interesting speech at his son's school and it got fairly wide coverage in the media because it was different. he basically wished the students that they would encounter throughout their lives bad things, not terrible things, but disappointment and that they would learn from those and i wondered. somebody that as you said was on a trajectory of success and doesn't appear to have any of those, but did he?
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when you look at his life are there the character forming disappointments in his own life that make an we can who he is t? >> i ask people in his family, his friends was there anything he was bad at or any setbacks into some of his friends would say things like he wasn't a really fast runner. i said can you give me a little bit more. [laughter] so he wasn't great at sports but he basically did everything. in fact kevin starr referred to him as mr. everything. i can tell you one setback that ended up being reversed in the end is when he was nominated by george h. w. bush to the district of columbia u.s. appeals court, the u.s. court of appeals from the dc circuit as it is known back in 1992 when he was very young.
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only about 37 i believe and he didn't get on because the democrats controlled the senate at the time, but arguably if he had gotten on them in 1992, he wouldn't be sitting at the supreme court now because he would have had so much of a record that might have been detected and so those were the few instances folks mentioned. you situated us where he was one of four children, the only boy with three sisters. he had his father's name, john roberts junior. he looked up to his father who was a steal at industry executives that have high hopes for himself. the speech marcia referred to was filled with the idea you
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should have setbacks to continue to be persistent but his setbacks were not major. >> maybe it was kenneth starr in your book that said the roots of his character were not only has time at school but also his deeply catholic upbringing. can you talk a little bit about that? >> he grew up in northern indiana and it started as a vacation area for people of chicago back in the early part of the century trying to escape the heat and congestion of the city's and it was a lovely place to grow up and a lot of the same kind of people, very white, catholic, tightknit community and i think that was character forming for him. he graduated first in his class
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and then he goes to harvard and finishes in the three years and is a little bit turned off by the liberalism at harvard as an undergraduate for law school but he continued to practice his faith. he's maintained his catholicism, he and his wife, very strong practitioners and we do have a lot of catholics on the court but there have been catholics that haven't been conservative such as william brennan and sonya sotomayor. his faith has been imported into him and one thing i want to mention though is even though he's personally against the liberalism at harvard, conservatism is in a sentence. when he finishes his clerkships ronald reagan had just been elected. >> and i think you mentioned
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what did he fear and ronald reagan? >> the call. he said there he was working for then associate justice william rehnquist at the supreme court in a very prestigious clerkship and he's wondering what to do next and he listens to ronald reagan in january of 1981 and he hears him speak about his agenda both economic and social and john roberts says i heard the call and wanted to be part of that. going back to ken starr again throughout this entire book at the time he was already working for ronald reagan and justice rehnquist at the time called up ken starr and said he had a youni had a youngman that it wot to get some government service before becoming a practitioner. i was wondering if you could
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explain what the chambers are like at the supreme court because as you and i know, the justice's chambers are often a reflection of who they are, what their background is, but their interest has been. you going to justice ginsburg'ss chambers an'schambers and therem all over the world. there's opera playing in the background. the justices have shown the roots. what about roberts, what have you seen? >> he has a large chamber as chief, so a couple different sitting rooms and in th in the e most, there is a notre dame football if you grow up in indiana at thindiana and don't t harvard you might have been a notre dame said he's always been a notre dame football fan and signed find a couple different s he has the art tha arts but he'n and landscape from indiana and
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maine where they have a vacation home and pictures of himself with william rehnquist who he worked for also a picture of henry friendly th to the u.s. ct of appeals for the second judge and who he had a very high regardvery high regardsfor and n and of course all the u.s. reports in the books are there so you can see different parts of his life play out, but the one thing i was going to menti mention, he has a lot of people come in, a lot of guests come into his chambers, but that is when he was a young lawyer. his office is the sort of known for being void of any kind of pictures. we had a colleague with a wonderful man by the name of david pike and he worked for a legal trade magazine newspaper and he often said it was so hard to get a feel on john roberts
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when you dealt with him one-on-one and he did interview him several times and one thing that struck him as you go into his office and it would be piled with briefs and papers and not a sign of anything personal, that there were no photos, nothing that would reveal his extracurricular interests other than notre dame football. >> that's interesting and the one thing i didn't get a sense from your book was whether he had any close or trusted friends among the other justices as you know and everybody knows there was the famous scalia ginsburg friendship, justice breyer and justice o'connor were close. i think justice stevens and justice souter. what about roberts? >> i don't think there's another justicthere isanother justice ie as a close pal of his. i think that he is friendly with
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many come he is friendly with all of them. i think that he felt a certain closeness with justice scalia and protectors of their background being similar in the justice scalia was a generation ahead of him. and i think that they are trying to become more of a partner to work on things together, and i have to say his background is also similar to brett kavanaugh. they knew each other from social activities in the chevy chase maryland and dc area, belonged to the same club, played poker at times, so there is a bit of a fellowship there. >> but does he like beer. [laughter] i couldn't resist. i'm sorry. i'm sorry. [laughter] it's been a long day. there was a fire alarm. [laughter]
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if you had to pick some adjectives to describe john roberts to somebody who doesn't watch the court or go to oral arguments, how would you describe that? >> determined, focused, smart, strategizing, controlling, very controlling, very aware. a real history buff, loves history, devoted to his family. always prepared. he was an excellent oral advocate and he shows up at the bench always prepared for cases, most of them do but not all, all the time. he like likes things to be predictable. he liked to know what's going to
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happen. he is nohe's not a naturally sps man. when we heard him say in november the wind president of trump there are no obama charges, there are no trump judges or bush or clinton judges. i think that he was waiting for his moment to say that. that wasn't off-the-cuff. he isn't a man that speaks off the cuff. a very studied. there he studied. he still loves history. before he went to law school to get a phd in history, and still is a student of history, he thought she would teach history as well before she went to law school. >> they had a lot in common in terms of extra curricular activities, you know, he still reads a lot of history, he reads biographies, he likes to golf, and for a while he actually was a runner and ran a couple of marathons when he was a young man.
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>> there is a reference in the book that shows a side of him on the court that makes one pause. he was cold i can't remember by whom, king john. can you tell us how that evolved? >> you know, he came in when he was just 50-years-old, had a mere two years experience on the dc circuit and had never even been on the supreme court, where as when william rehnquist was elevated to chief in 1986, he already had 14 years in the associate justice. he knew the personality and how to work with his colleagues, and has justice scalia told me, he had enough time in to defend his hide. incomes young john roberts who haven't had a lot, not much managerial experience. someone that is naturally reserved and shy, those are two other adjectives and i think he had trouble navigating among the
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justices is a constant work in progress about how to persuade them and work with them. they are all appointed for life and set in their ways, set in their ways for better or worse. when you talk about things like the perks and the running of the building, he can be quite controlling and some of the staffers have taken to a way of calling him king john. there have been some resentment built up over time that i suddenly get at it i'm afraid to ask about this because i wasn't sure how to ask about this. in my interviews even before i chose chief justice roberts is a subject and it emerged in some
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of the research i was doing when i was writing about justice scalia and then the more that i probed it, the more i found elements of distrust and a little bit of resentment with him frankly wanting to set himself above the others as you read in a letter and i didn't know how much to make of it so i mentioned it at all points in the book, but what i ended up saying is that it doesn't really affect the ball in the end. it might affect how they navigate the cases and how they pick up the phone to work on a compromise, who might feel like backing off of a conference the chief night wants to have stated, that in the end it is more of a human dynamic element in something that affects the law that we all live under. >> one time i was interviewing justice ginsburg, and roberts had been the chief for little
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while aa littlewhile at that po. and i asked as the chief justice changed at all since he became chief justice and she said he hasn't changed since law school. [laughter] i sort of assumed she meant his ideological views, but i'm wonderinwondering has matured he record changed john robertson anyway. >> that is a good question and i will mention that her daughter do john roberts at harvard and so she had gotten an advance glimpse of the chief and she mentioned that to me and also mentioned she referred to him being formed conservative just like me know justice ginsburg line. i think the court has changed him. you know, being chief justice comes with great advantages and benefits because you preside over the cases, you start the discussion in the conference,
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there are private meetings to decide cases at. he has control to steer things in many ways, but he also has the fate of the institution on him and also has to deal with the personnel. it's a little bit of the personnel job, too and he wasn't accustomed to that. i think that in the beginning he wanted to try to make sure everyone got along more and he wanted to build more consensus and that's been a bit of a bumpy road for him. >> like chief justice rehnquist once told us it's like herding cats. >> chief justice rehnquist with just kind of let it roll off his shoulders like whatever. and they liked him. that is the one thing i realized that he was actually a tough chief to follow, not in terms of the mall but in terms of personality come he was quite beloved by ruth bader ginsburg. she really liked him and she still would prefer to him and
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the current chief would be like you. [laughter] let's announce which cures a little bit and talk about roberts the justice, the judge. if you had to pick three decisions that he has written or if not a majority opinion, at least a concrete dissent from the three that define him in his tenure, which three would you pick ax >> in order of importance but want to discuss them because i want to end up with healthcare. the affordable healthcare act case in 2012 that we will devote a little more time to come to the shelbtheshelby county versu, which cut back pretty dramatically on the voting rights act of 1965, and then the opinion he wrote in the pair is involved school integration case where he interpreted the brown
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v. board o board of education iy that really ran counter to the advocates behind brown v. board and to the warren court and to just about every liberal salt and interpretation as being offkilter, but he felt very strongly about it, so i would say those three. >> which one would you like to start with. >> should we do shall be county? that is something we are continuing. that is a position that has not died in the senate and has huge ramifications. >> 5-4. the justices eliminate what was known as section five and section four formula for this preclearance that have been built into the voting rights act that required certain states and municipalities that have a history of discrimination to have any change cleared first by the justice department before it
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took effect to ensure that it wouldn't discriminate against african americans, latinos or any other racial minorities, and the idea here was that certain places, especially in the south had this, you know, he's histories of bias and the federal government wanted to make sure that they were not continually contracting the franchise for the minority voters. and john roberts had opposed the so-called preclearance for a long time back to his years in the reagan administration or at least wanted it and felt the localities should be able to set their own policies in the and te federal government shouldn't be meddling here, and this had been coming you know, based on project is along the way and what we saw first in 2009 where he kind of laid the groundwork for what he did in 2013 when he wrote the majority opinion to say this is no longer needed, he
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famously said in the cases things have changed in the south, we nsouth, we no longer e kind of problems. he pointed to the fact that barack obama had won the presidency and that there are problems in the north just like there are problem problems in th come into the south shouldn't be singled out anymore. >> what you see this sort of the culmination of his views on race? >> definitely. and we saw certainly in the cases of those in when he worked for ronald reagan and positions he took when he was for president george h. w. bush and then so he gets on the court in 2005 and in 2006 it was the texas voting rights case where he refers to the line drawing that is going to maximize the strength of black voters that have previously been diluted, and he refers to this business
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on the basis of race. he doesn't like any kind of racial classification. he feels that they are debilitating to the racial minorities in the stigmatizing and that as he wrot wrote in wrt in both cases i referred to in 2007, that they actually are as bad as the kind of discrimination that the alleged racial remedies in the first place. >> this is sort of typical and exemplifies what you said about the strategic aspect of roberts. he does step by step, so he starts in the texas case and assorted business that's being offset by grace. the way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race and then we get to shelby county and so there's almost a progression and how.
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>> very steady and on the same track. that's why when people say now what will he be like if he's going to be the swing vote likeh justice kennedy, but i say is on race he's given a very consistent pattern. >> so, just to move to healthcare, you came up with some original reporting and healthcare. i didn't think was possible after all that was written about obamacare but you did in terms of behind the scenes, so tell us a little bit about roberts behind the scenes. >> okay i will bring you back to 2012. if you election year, so every republican candidate is speaking out against barack obama is signature domestic achievement, the affordable care act. it's challenged in the lower courts and there are many provisions to the health care law, but the two main flags that are before the supreme court in this momentous case involved with the old refer to as the individual mandate, and that is
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the requirement that all individuals have an insurance of one sort or another, and the other was expansion of the medicaid program to help people near the poverty line nationwi nationwide. the medicaid element event get much attention. we were all sort of, we accord focused on the individual mandate and it was challenged as a violation of the congress's power to regulate the intrastate commerce, so we have a three days of oral arguments, usually cases get one hour of oral argument, so this was a really big deal and i'm sure every single person in this room followed it in one way or another. and when the justices take their first private boats friday of the week after the arguments, it is a five-4 to strike down the individual requirements but what i found out is devoted to uphold the expansion.
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it is a very important consequential part of the law. to strike it down. it's whether they want to go & go & strike down the whole law. this is nearly a thousand pages of the provisions. many of you remember your children can stay on your health policy until you're 26. insurance can't cut off people because of cancer or other pre-existing conditions. so many things were important to so many people. but we remember the controversy and the very political nature of it. so, the chiefs to have second thoughts about taking down the whole law as the rest of the others that have voted against
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it. he starts negotiating with two of the liberal justices, stephen breyer and elena kagan who started the other cases. he decided to find new grounds to uphold it under the taxing power. now, we all know that part because we know that in the end when he announced to be opinions on the bench he couldn't stand under the congress's power but i couldn't stand under the taxing power and many people were surprised. i have to say i did actually predict that he was going to vote that way, but the thing was i was actually wrong because he didn't vote that way first. he had voted to strike it down and then he changed his mind but then not only did he change his mind on not holding the requirements that we all have to buy health insurance, he then
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flips his vote on whether the expansion for medicaid was constitutional and he instead says that should be struck down and he had been working with the justices and they switched their votes and that gets struck down and now it is one of the oddest parts of the decision was to see they voted to strike down the medicaid expansion. it just seems so out of character. and why would they do that? they were giving cover to roberts or trying to show that it was bipartisan and get a basically threw under the bus the poor, the elderly who would benefit from that medicaid expansion. but at the time everybody said they were going to take the medicaid expansion and run with it. while, they couldn't have.
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>> it was at the discretion of the state people thought essentially they are going to get free money to expand but because a lot of republicans states didn't want to do what he obama was essentially giving, but here's the thing at the time i look back and think why didn't i probe the medicaid vote more when the justices suddenly were against the expansion? because i had written a story about how vigorously they have challenged paul clement told the former solicitor general under president bush who argued that the medicaid expansion was unconstitutional, and then all of a sudden they looked the other way. well, i believe, in speaking with all the justices about this that they felt over time that as john roberts was moving in another direction, and believe it or not, they didn't feel confident until almost the end when the decision was announced that he was going to stick with it, that is how much things were in flux behind the scenes he
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thought they should give him a little bit of something. so, it was -- i was really surprised when i found out. i suspected 1 foot boat because they had known about that and had written about it and nobody else had been able to match this time, although i found out from justices that it had indeed happened but when i found out that the second switch mode, a remember calling and as a reporter you think you need to doublecheck this if you want to make sure you found out correctly but you also don't want to take it to many people because you don't want it reported before your book is going to come out. but i thought it was amazing. it really goes to show the kind of compromises that go on behind the scene. >> you said something that really struck me. you said that in the health care act, roberts acted in shorts like a politician. and i would assume that he would also say to today suited elena
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kegan and breyer. >> in the broad sense of cutting the deal, giving a little, giving up a little getting the e result of majority will accept. what i write in the end is that it wasn't pretty. the decision was criticized in many ways for lacking coherence and they legal grounding, but the more end up being upheld and brought together in competing factions and people any in the middle give him credit for that and i think that that action has continued to define him in the public eye as more moderate than the conservatives that he is on many other issues. >> did you ask him at all if he had any regrets about any of his discussions? and i'decisions?
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and i'm thinking in particular about shelby county because after that decision was issued, we saw almost immediately states in the south implementing voter suppression measures are making it harder for voters to regist register, and also citizens united. he didn't write the majority opinion in citizens united, but he got a very strong and comforting opinion. and it certainly he is pretty hy much identified them as well. did you ask if he has any regrets? >> i can tell you how to categorize certain things because conversations were off the record and we were negotiating what would go on the record. but i can tell you from everything he's written and from what i have observed is that he just feels that the court itself is bright to leave it to the elected officials, that the court shouldn't be in the business of policing a sum of
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these voting violations, you know, localities should be in charge of that and in terms of the citizens united, he needs more money, more speech, speech is money, the better. he doesn't see the practical consequences of the way many people do. when you talk about the voting rights situation after the shelby county ruling in 2013, almost immediately in texas and north carolina, the state legislatures passed restrictio restrictions. they implemented the voter id laws and redistricted in ways that which munged as hurting the minority voters. >> i don't want to do what i always do and i never get to a lot of the questions.
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i'm just going to ask one more, and that is how does he compare in terms of interviewing and reporting to the other justices that you have written about, o'connor, sonya sotomayor and scalia. >> he was my toughest critic start to finish and just to remind everyone, and i know you know this when i did the book on justice scalia, he sat with me for 12 sessions all on the record. he just talked and talked and talked and i would be exhausted like i got to go now. [laughter] there were so many times when i was speaking with the cheese and thought if we had both cartoon bubbles over our head would say something like i can't wait for her to be done and mine would say i just wish he were scalia. [laughter] because it was so hard. first of all, i do not like dealing with subjects who only want to speak off the record because i don't feel -- i can't
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stand take the material out to doublecheck it the way that i want to. it's just harder all around and he had his reasons. he definitely didn't want to give me much in any way. even from things like you know, trying to find out more about his family. he was raised in the early 60s. was your mother making shallow and cooking with campbell's soup, thing is that were happening then. very hard to get the kind of information out of him, the longer you just asked about this he had regrets about the shelby county. [laughter] >> i understand. >> let's take some questions. when appointing roberts as the chief justice, did president bush ever consider elevating one of the existing associate justices to the position? >> thiflex >> this is a great question because he owes his job to the way he was first appointed to
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the associate justice to hurricane katrina. so here we are. july 1, 2005. justice sandra day o'connor announced she's going to retire. it's a huge deal as we all know. we can talk at length about that at another time. the president george w. bush is looking for a more moderate individual to replace sandra day o'connor whose kind of i was kie middle and that this point, john roberts his memos haven't been made public. he's built up a reputation as, you know, fairly moderate in the circuit, he had represented all manners in private practice, said he was an ideal candidate for an associate judgeship, justice should and he was only 50, said he gets named to that and everyone is thinking chief justice william rehnquist has thyroid cancer, he will probably
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have to step down soon, and president bush was thinking positively elevate justice scalia, possibly look for a more seasoned traversed for the position, but what happened in the interim before justice scalia does die on september 3 is hurricane katrina happened and many of you will remember how we had hundreds, more than a thousand people into providing in the gulf region. president bush [inaudible] for the federal government's involvement in trying to solve the problem in many blacks to providing and suddenly without their homes down there and soak the administration was dressed in battle with when the chief justice dies and by this point, john roberts has put on a nice show for the senators, not in any kind of a confirmation confg but in the courtesy visit
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getting all sorts of great reviews and accolades, and on the morning after justice, chief justice rehnquist, saturday night, you probably remember where you were when you got the news, and the next morning president bush calls everybody to his office and he says to cheney, who was a real booster for justice scalia possibly getting elevated, he says i'm going with john roberts and there were really wasn't much discussion, it was john roberts and suddenly chief justice of the united gates at age 50. >> can you speak to roberts views on the fourth amendment vis-à-vis the new technologies and how that fits into the overall jurisprudence? >> this is an area that he's tried to tell about the special
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role in terms of cell phone usage and the digital age. in the traditional cases, i would say he had been quite conservative in terms of searches of the traditional defendant rights question, but cell phone technology he had the stratford wrote the opinion for the cour court in terms of protg and there was a great candidate among the justices that assured him not to be as enlightened and it led to a banter between the justices ginsburg and the chief and justice roberts thought why would anybody carry to iphone's. wouldn't it reveal you were some sort of a criminal? [laughter] he obviously wasn't like some of his colleagues went one for work and one for family kind of thing. but his clerks and others certainly educated him on that and he has been quite generous in protecting the fourth
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amendment rights in the digital age. and i think privacy is very big with him. he also gave a speech at his daughter's school about technology and the harms it might cause if you have gotten too wrapped up into it. >> it didn't get wrapped up and go as viral as his son's speech. the doctor's speech was last year as a freshman in college and the speech was last year for her high school graduation, suburban dc but he talks about that and about trying to kind of pull oneself away from a the high-tech world to allow your thoughts to sit for a while rather than to be constantly looking at the screen. >> how did roberts react when president obama publicly criticized him over the citizens united position flex >> he was very angry about that. this was at the state of the uniostate of theunion as many o, and it was just a couple of days
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after the ruling in january of 2010 when again by the 5-4 vote, the supreme court majority lifted the regulations on corporations and labor unions in political campaigns and president obama criticizes the decision in front of them while, you know, to the entire chamber in the house, but the justices sitting there with their hands on their lap, they hate being there and part of the political spectacle and then suddenly the decisions were being criticized, and you might remember samuel alito announced its true and it went viral. a few weeks after that incident he spoke at the university of alabama & people get invited to our place of business we don't hold them up he said i don't
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know why people have to go what past justices this roberts especially admire? >> chief justice hughes and the fundamental founding he wasn't our first chief justice but he was the chief justice wrote harvard versus madison and gave the supreme court its power in what the constitution means, so he has a lot of regard for john marshall and said he thought about how history will think of him and he said they are not going to be john marshall, but you certainly don't want to be dred scott, and chief justice hughes estate of the core would
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you comment on roberts health and how this will impact his longevity on the court? he have to epileptic seizures prevented that the being made public and for what i can tell, and this is very hard to get information on the justices health situation when he fell at the vacation home in maine and then it was revealed that there were two instances. i haven't seen anything or heard anything that was just a deep and serious problems that prevents him from doing his job.
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the court always had a been known as the highest court on the land but now they have another place they can work out in ways like justice ginsburg and another place. >> justice breyer works out all the time too, but the chief works out and tries to stay healthy. >> i say in the book he was a high school wrestler hell do you
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anticipate roberts will vote on the gerrymandering issue before the court? >> i am one person who thinks that he has to shut the doo shue partisan gerrymandering. one thing i have observed of him is always dangerous to make predictions. we can be wrong. but he doesn't want federal judges in the business of ruling on the si extreme partisanship r so many states. my sense is he would rather leave it to elected officials. he isn't crazy about bipartisan commissions to be voted against an arizona legislation, but he didn't tip his hand during the cascase but was purchased this k but from what he wrote last year's partisan gerrymandering in wisconsin, i would suspect
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that he isn't going to budge on it. >> by the way, later this month at did you say the tribeca film festival, there is a documentary that is going to premiere called slave dragon, and it's all about gerrymandering. and i was able to prescreen it and it's meeting. it goes into the effort in wisconsin that came to the supreme court last term, and also tells the story of the grassroots effort in michigan to get onto the ballot question about having redistricting done by an independent bipartisan commission, and it's worth taking time to loo the time to t it's quite good. okay. that's my plug. this is a little tricky. could you comment on roberts sending back, and i think that
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this would be to attend circuit, the complaints on kavanagh's performance of his hearing? >> i actually know a lot about this because i even before the controversy over judges behaving badly, the sexual harassment, a process i have taken on was just how people can complain about judges and what happens, what happens internally, are they effectively policing their own, and one thing that i discovered was the minute a lower court judge is under scrutiny steps down how much he or she is no longer the individual judge can go off and earn his full pension. but the only way they can avoid the scrutiny as if he or she becomes a justice. the supreme court justices are not covered formally by the
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federal code of ethics. so, all of these complaints were brought against brett kavanaugh initially having nothing to do with what he said in response to the allegations by the professor for but rather some of the things he had said about his record on the dc circuit. there have been several complaints and in the end there were scores of complaints. they were originally filed at the dwiththe dc circuit where bt kavanaugh had been sitting in the chief justice transferred them to the tenth circuit so what would appear to be a neutral arbiter would handle it, but the transfer itself was sort of meaningless because the justices are not covered and sure enough after several months the tenth circuit came back and said we have no jurisdiction here. he's a supreme court justice and
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there's nothing we can do. and that was appealed to a higher committee. >> still in the tenth circuit. they expanded the commission at that the tenth circuit. these were 81 appeals and just recently that commission rejected all of the appeals on the same grounds, but there were, well, there was a dissenting, one of the female judges on the circuit and also one of the judges recused themselves for the reasons that the judge said which was we shouldn't be doing this. we shouldn't be hearing the appeals of our own decisions. now, at least to the people that
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brought the appeals say they are now in the end of the judges dissent says they should go to the judicial conference of the united states now. that is the next step and number two, those that had appealed and were rejected said they were taking it to the judicial conference. so they end up back. >> with the judicial conference is as is a body of federal jud. it's essentially an in-house review and the panel attempts they don't have jurisdiction and i cannot imagine yet another panel of federal judges saying suddenly they have jurisdiction because everybody has said no. >> they are trying to force the issue, and congress as part of hr one which is the first bill
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the house democrats were able to pass at a provision that was kind of a soft provision saying that the supreme court should adopt a code of ethics, and i believe when elena kegan and a veto testified on this recently on the supreme court budget he said the supreme court justice was a truly looking about. >> whatever that actually needss because at the very end she just sort of said something to the effect of ps, the chief justice is thinking of possibly proposing that the supreme court has its own code of ethics but he hasn't brought it to the conference were talked to the other justices about it. i went up to the court after words and said what can you tell us about this and there was nothing to be told. we don't know anything. >> one last question.
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do you know if roberts has read or will read your book? >> no, i don't know. it just came out this week. it's just been published. i made sure his close friends from harvard who asked me for an early copy he got an early copy and i made sure the court had an early copy, so i do not think that he's read the final version. >> do you think that he would tell you? >> you know, it's interesting. as somebody that generally keeps a lock to himself, but i found that i will often hear different things. i've heard in many ways i don't know how they will here for this round, but there is much more to this book. take your opportunity to get it and get a signed copy. it's really worthwhile reading. thank you. [applause]
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>> we want to thank you for coming twice this evening. tonight was a bonanza. [laughter] marcia and chon, thank you so much. this is great. two live wires who may have set off the alarm i think. [laughter] , 77th street, our museum store, books, joan's book is on sale. thank you so much. [applause] [inaudible conversations] ..


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