Breaking and associated brands will be offline for scheduled maintenance Friday Feb. 26 9 PM US EST to Saturday Feb. 27 6 AM EST. We apologize for the inconvenience.


Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
The lawyers in the Philadelphia community who know U.S. Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts say he always seemed destined for big things. Barrack, Rodos & Bacine partner Mark Rosen remembered that John G. Roberts had two goals when the two young men were classmates in their first year at Harvard Law School — becoming a professor at the law school or serving on the U.S. Supreme Court. “It’s up to him to say whether he got the consolation prize,” Rosen said, just a day after Roberts was nominated by President George W. Bush to replace Sandra Day O’Connor on the Supreme Court. While Roberts was introduced to Americans during a carefully orchestrated prime-time television moment, many Philadelphia lawyers are quite familiar with the 50-year-old federal judge. Roberts graduated from Harvard Law School in 1979 with Rosen and several other Philadelphia lawyers and has met others through casework and professional activities over the years. His resume includes a clerkship with Chief Justice William Rehnquist, a stint with the Department of Justice during the Reagan administration and a distinguished career as a litigator at Washington, D.C.’s Hogan & Harston, where he argued 39 cases in front of the high court. In 2002, he was nominated by President Bush to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Rosen said he and Roberts took Laurence Tribe’s constitutional law class together and the two were good friends. He said Roberts seemed to be “marked with a silver bullet” from the beginning of his career. Rosen described his former classmate as someone who “didn’t seem driven by the dollars” of a legal career, was brilliant and affable, and was a hard worker who truly loved the law. Rosen, who is a Democrat, said there were many people at Harvard Law School who were ideological, but Roberts was not one of them. He said he never engaged Roberts in deep debates about politics but he and some of his classmates guessed that the Buffalo, N.Y., native was a Republican. “If he has a deep-seated, far-right ideology, he hid it from us for three years,” Rosen said. Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll partner Wayne Strasbaugh also graduated from Harvard Law School with Roberts but he actually remembers the high court nominee as an undergraduate student. Strasbaugh was a Ph.D. student teaching history classes when he supervised Roberts’ senior thesis, which led to his magna cum laude degree. The topic revolved around the British Liberal Cabinet before World War I and why they failed despite having a successful government. Strasbaugh said Roberts was the best student he ever had and described him as extremely intelligent and an excellent writer. Strasbaugh wound up writing one of Roberts’ law school recommendations but did not have much contact with his former student when they were both enrolled at Harvard Law School, nor has he been in touch since that time. “He did not have that sort of showy type of intelligence,” Strasbaugh said. “It was more of a controlled, thoughtful, not-aggressive type of intelligence.” Solo practitioner Jeffrey Saltz was a year ahead of Roberts at Harvard Law School and participated in the law review with him. Saltz said there were members of the law review who had ideological leanings but Roberts was not one of them. He described Roberts as pleasant and smart. “People on law review can be very full of themselves and have a real edge, and he was not one of those,” Saltz said. “He was very collegial.” Ballard Spahr partner Alan Kaplinsky said he worked with Roberts on a case just before Roberts was appointed to the federal bench in 2003. Kaplinsky and partner Mark Levin represented Discover Bank in a case in California federal court that concerned the validity of a class action waiver in a consumer arbitration provision. When Kaplinsky and Levin lost the case in California, Discover officials asked Roberts to join the legal team to help with the petition for writ of certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court and with garnering amicus support. Kaplinsky and Levin worked with Roberts for six months before their petition was rejected. “What I was struck by was his extraordinary knowledge and his very balanced approach to things,” Kaplinsky said. “He looked at the case on its merits and was totally dispassionate. Like many top litigators, he was very astute. But unlike many of them, he did not possess a big ego. He was very deferential and soft-spoken.” Kaplinsky said he never got a feel for where Roberts stood on any issues and would not have known that he was so closely aligned with the Republican Party. As he watched the announcement Tuesday night, Kaplinsky said he thought it was a brilliant choice. “I think he will follow the law and not create the law,” Kaplinsky said. “He’s smart, collegial, doesn’t come with a lot of baggage and has not taken extreme positions on any of the hot-button topics. “There is no doubt that John is a conservative, but I don’t think he’s an ideologue like some of the other potential candidates. He could be a perfect replacement for Sandra Day O’Connor — someone who is middle-of-the-road, who will be deciding some close votes on key issues.”

This content has been archived. It is available through our partners, LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law.

To view this content, please continue to their sites.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Not a Bloomberg Law Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law are third party online distributors of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law customers are able to access and use ALM's content, including content from the National Law Journal, The American Lawyer, Legaltech News, The New York Law Journal, and Corporate Counsel, as well as other sources of legal information.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.