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John Roberts became Chief Justice of the Supreme Court after he was nominated by George W. Bush in 2005.
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In 1990, he wrote a brief that stated Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided and should be overturned and he co-authored a brief that argued in favor of clergy-led prayer at public school graduations. In November, 2000, Roberts traveled to Florida to advise then-Governor Jeb Bush on the recount of ballots during the 2000 presidential election between Al Gore and Bush's brother,
In January 2003, President George W. Bush nominated John Roberts for a position on the U.S. Court of Appeals. He was confirmed in May by voice vote with little opposition. During his two-year tenure on the Court, Roberts wrote 49 opinions of which only two were not unanimous and he dissented in three others. He ruled on several controversial cases including Hedgepeth v. Washington Metro Transit Authority upholding the arrest of a 12-year-old girl for violating the “no eating food” policy at a Washington D.C. Metro station. Roberts was also part of the unanimous ruling in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld upholding military tribunals’ trying terrorism suspects known as "enemy combatants." This decision was overturned in a 5-3 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2006 (Chief Justice Roberts excused himself from this case).
On July 19, 2005, following the retirement of Associate Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, President George W. Bush nominated John Roberts to fill her vacancy. However, on September 3, 2005, Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist died following a long illness. On September 6, President Bush withdrew Roberts's nomination as O'Connor's successor and nominated him for the position of Chief Justice. During his confirmation hearings, Roberts dazzled both the Senate Judiciary Committee and a nationwide audience watching on CSPAN with his encyclopedic knowledge of Supreme Court precedent, which he discussed in detail without notes. While he gave no indication of how he would rule on any particular case, he did state that the issues he argued for while deputy solicitor general were the views of the administration he was representing at the time and not necessarily his own. Roberts was confirmed by the full Senate on September 29, 2005 as the 17th Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court by a margin of 78-22, more than any other nominee for Chief Justice in American history. At age 50, Roberts became the youngest person confirmed as Chief Justice since John Marshall in 1801.
Before his confirmation, Roberts's brief stint on the U.S. Court of Appeals didn't provide an extensive case history to determine his judicial philosophy. Roberts has denied he has any comprehensive jurisprudential philosophy and believes no having one is the best way to faithfully construe the Constitution. Some Supreme Court observers believe Roberts puts this attitude into practice, noting that he is a master at building consensus for his judicial opinions by citing the opinions of his fellow justices. Others have observed this shrewd tactic has allowed Roberts to incrementally move the court's decisions to the right by tailoring his arguments and decisions in such a way so as to cultivate the support of more moderate justices.
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The Supreme Court has presided over landmark cases that have changed the history of the United States. At times, the judges themselves have been the history makers, as in the case of Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American Justice; Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court; and Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice. Here’s a look at the famous judges who have served on the United States' highest court.
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