Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Chief Justice Roberts To Break Up Supreme Court, Pursue Solo Career

by Benjo

I'm devastated--the Supreme Court was always my favorite court, but I've never gotten a chance to see them live. I'll definitely go check out Roberts, but without Justices Breyer and Scalia on backing questions, it just won't be the same.
The Supreme Court of the United States will break up at the end of the term, allowing front man and Chief Justice John Roberts to pursue a solo career, sources say.

“John has felt like the Court has really been holding him back creatively,” said Edward Stapleton, a former clerk for Roberts who is close to the Chief Justice. “He does believe there are a lot of strong justices on the Court, don't get me wrong; but he is clearly the most talented. And he's definitely got the star power to make it as a solo justice.”

The Supreme Court has been together for 220 years, and has had rotating lineups throughout that time. Indeed, the Court currently includes none of its founding members, but has nonetheless continued to adjudicate under the original Supreme Court name.

According to law professor James Wicket, “They're like Santana in that way: you might have a new keyboardist, or Associate Justice, or what have you, but the ethos is the same.” Wicket noted that “The group Santana does have that guy Carlos Santana, who's been with them the whole time. Now there is no Carlos Supreme. But if there was, it would be Roberts, no question. He is the Court's backbone.”

Stapleton, the former clerk, and others have confirmed that Roberts has considered adjudicating under the moniker Carlos Supreme. As for what he will adjudicate, Stapleton said that Roberts is not opposed to re-adjudicating some of the classic cases from his days with the Court, but he will focus on new material.

According to Stapleton, Chief Justice Roberts had been pondering the decision to go solo since the Morse v. Frederick case in 2007. “He wrote the majority opinion, and thought the case was going to be huge,” Stapleton said. “But in the end, he felt that Justice Stevens's dissent prevented the case from becoming the huge hit that it could have been.”

Since joining the Court in 2005, Roberts has steered it in a direction that distinguished it from the Courts of preceding decades. “He was never interested in the synthesized stuff in the Court's opinions from the 80s—he found it, frankly, cheesy,” Stapleton said. “Ditto the grunge Court of the 90s. He's always been an independent guy, so it makes perfect sense that the Roberts Court has been the indie court.”

Despite the increased independence that Roberts will now enjoy, many question the wisdom of the breakup. Legal historian Linus Loriander points out that other justices have pursued solo careers in the past, only to find that their formulas did not work as well without their backing justices.

“They often find their courthouses empty within a few years. When you're accustomed to the roar of the giant crowds in the Supreme Court Chamber, that's hard to take,” Loriander said, noting that over half of justices who pursue solo careers end up reuniting with their original Court within a few years.

But some claim that visibility has nothing to do with the breakup. According to one Supreme Court clerk, Roberts's reasons for quitting are related more to his personal habits.

“It's the partying, period,” said the clerk. “Having been backstage at the Court, I can honestly say I've never seen anything like it. The celebrities, the intoxication, the groupies—all of whom flock to Roberts.” The clerk continued, “When his wife left him, that was a blow. When he had to go to rehab, it hurt, for certain. But I think the moment when it became crystal clear that the Roberts train had to stop was when the Chief Justice found himself blowing lines off Ruth Bader Ginsburg's tits.”

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