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U.S. Supreme Court

Chief Justice Says Court Is Collegial, But Compromise Can Be Difficult

Posted Apr 8, 2010 8:11 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. says strident language in Supreme Court decisions reflects strong positions rather than personal animosity.

Answering questions after a speech at the Indiana University School of Law, Roberts said, "It is a very, very collegial court," the Associated Press reports.

Roberts acknowledged that consensus can be difficult in some areas, however. Roberts said justices who differ in their interpretations of law can’t act like lawmakers who compromise when enacting legislation. Roberts was responding to a question about his comment during confirmation hearings in which he said he wanted to build consensus.

The Wall Street Journal Law Blog noted other highlights, including:

— Roberts said he had heard of more than 100 law review articles criticizing his confirmation hearing comment about judges being like umpires. His point, Roberts said, was that judges shouldn’t have a stake in the outcome. “I hope that most people would agree that … you don’t want the judge participating in the game,” he said.

— Roberts said law review articles are “more abstract” than practical, and he doesn’t pay much attention to them.

— Roberts disagreed that the justices have become glamorous celebrities. Instead, the media “popularize people like Judge Judy as celebrities,” Roberts said. “Most people think that she is on the Supreme Court.”

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