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Reprinted from the July/August 2005 ABI Journal August 1, 2005

Web posted and Copyright © August 1, 2005, American Bankruptcy Institute.

Well-credentialed Nominee Has Extensive Practice Representing Business Interests

ith President Bush's surprise nomination of U.S. Court of Appeals Judge John G. Roberts Jr. to replace Sandra Day O'Connor, the rush is on to predict his impact on the Supreme Court. After leaving the first Bush Administration in 1993 (where he served as chief deputy to the Solicitor General Kenneth Starr), Roberts practiced telecommunications, energy and other business law in private practice. He has represented both large companies and individuals in a variety of cases.

Business leaders who considered the records of the finalist list placed Judge Roberts at the top. During his two stints at Washington, D.C. law powerhouse Hogan & Hartson, Roberts represented varied corporate and professional clients. He earned a reputation as one of the premier appellate advocates in the country, winning some 25 of 39 arguments before the Court to which he is now nominated. His clients included representation of a man convicted of filing false Medicaid claims, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the state of Alaska, Toyota Motor Co., a road-sign manufacturer, the Chrysler Corp., a group of coal companies and Litton Systems.

"He has recent experience in business cases. He writes very careful, narrowly crafted opinions. And he's a very smart person who is not committed to his ideology. You are in a room with him and he exudes good judgment," said Robert Gasaway, an attorney with Kirkland & Ellis who helped business groups vet the nominee list, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

John C. Yoo, a professor of law at the University of California at Berkeley who served in the Bush Justice Department, emphasizes what he called Roberts's traditional approach to the law in a Washington Post report on July 20. In the 39 cases that Roberts argued before the Supreme Court, Yoo pointed out that he never pushed the court to adopt "big new theories" but rather argued the facts of his cases.

The Supreme Court's new term starts in October and includes two bankruptcy cases, one on sovereign immunity and one involving student loan debt collection.

Although Roberts's nomination to the D.C. Circuit was held up (both in 1990 and 2001), he was eventually confirmed by the Senate on a voice vote. He was approved by the Judiciary Committee with just three dissenting votes.


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