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TRACK RECORD Five wins, two losses for the last five terms. Has argued 31 cases lifetime, winning 20, losing nine, with one split decision and another case declared moot. BACKGROUND Age: 45. Managing editor of Harvard Law Review in 1979, clerk to then-associate justice William Rehnquist. Went to Hogan & Hartson after stints in Reagan Justice Department and White House counsel’s office. Returned to Justice in 1989 as principal deputy solicitor general under Kenneth Starr. Returned to Hogan in 1993. Became a father for first time this summer. SNAPSHOT With the passing of Bruce Ennis, the legendary advocate from Jenner & Block who succumbed to leukemia earlier this year, Roberts is viewed by many as the best Supreme Court advocate in private law firm practice. His briefs are uncommonly well written, reflecting his view that “the most important part of a Supreme Court case is the briefing.” But his oral arguments are also meaty and on-target, delivered in a calm, conversational style. If George W. Bush is elected president, Roberts could be on a shortlist for the solicitor general’s spot or even as a justice. Unlike Carter Phillips, who eschews moot courts, Roberts tries to have three before he stands up for oral argument — the first a month before the argument, the second two weeks before, and the final dress rehearsal a few days before. For the two or three weeks before an argument, Roberts says, “I am thinking about the case nonstop. But you can’t bill the client for all that.” The preparation shows, says Hogan colleague E. Barrett Prettyman, Jr., also a veteran Supreme Court advocate: “John has a way about him that’s tremendously persuasive.” Roberts doesn’t always win, however. He recalls a 1994 case, Digital Equipment Corp. v. Desktop Direct, in which his argument was a clunker: “The only reason I lost 9 to 0 is that there were only nine justices.” He lost a big one last term as well, failing to convince the Court in Rice v. Cayetano that Native Hawaiians were legal equivalents of American Indians who can restrict voting to their own members. Roberts lost to Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher’s Theodore Olson, a longtime friend who says he refers cases to Roberts that he can’t take himself. QUOTABLE QUOTE “My last thought before I stand up before the Supreme Court is, ‘Why am I doing this?’ My first thought when it is over is, ‘When can I do it again?’ Impassioned rhetoric doesn’t work with the Supreme Court. If it did, I’d become impassioned. I don’t tailor a case to a specific justice. You would be surprised how often I am wrong when I think a certain justice will vote my way.”

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