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The Chief Justice's "Nobel Prize"

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. may be feeling a little Obama today, especially if he reads GQ. The gentlemen's magazine listed Roberts as the tenth most powerful person in the nation's capital. Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel, former Vice President Dick Cheney and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi came in ahead of the Supreme Court leader, who, in turn, ranked higher than such Washington luminaries as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Attorney General Eric Holder Jr.

But there may be reason for the chief justice to be a little crimson-faced, just as the president was last Friday upon learning that the Nobel committee had bestowed upon him the prestigious Peace Prize. Even though the Supreme Court is often tagged with the name of its presiding chief justice -- as in "The Rehnquist Court" -- the chief justice's vote counts no more or no less than any of his title-challenged "associate justices."

Besides, there's no doubt that some court watchers would have picked perennial swing voter Anthony M. Kennedy -- who's been on the bench some 17 years longer than Roberts -- as perhaps the most influential justice today. And even Kennedy is not a shoo-in every year for most powerful member of the bench. Just a couple of terms ago, commentators noted how often Justice John Paul Stevens had prevailed in the most important and high profile matters of the session.

Really, GQ's distinction should be given out on a revolving basis -- to the justice who writes the majority opinion on any given day.

By Eva Rodriguez  | October 13, 2009; 4:37 PM ET
Categories:  Rodriguez  | Tags:  Eva Rodriguez  
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I would like to propose that Ms. Rodriguez be given an award for the most inane and pointless comment in quite some time.

Posted by: marecek | October 14, 2009 5:34 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: sailhardy | October 14, 2009 8:35 AM | Report abuse

Really more (or less) than inane isn't it? I'd put it more in the lame category -- trying to connect a political rating from GQ -- yes, all the insiders follow that one -- to the Nobel/Obama thing.

It's sad really -- as if by the time Rodriguez got around to writing her obligatory Nobel/Obama article it had all been done. Then she made a bizarre connection that left me scratching my head.

Posted by: balto20 | October 14, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

But you miss the point in the last comment--it is the Chief Justice, if he votes inthe majority, who decides who writes the majority opinion. This is no small power, aparticularly combined with the fact that the Chief votes last--and thus knows which side will prevail.

This was seen during the tenure of Justice Burger, when the liberals were still a potent force on the court. If Burger, who voted last, saw thatthe liberals were going to win a decision, he's vote with them--and assign the opinion to himself, thus making it as conservative as he could be away with--to the total annoyance of William O. Douglas, who as senior member, would otherwise have decided who wrote the opinion--and that, of course, would have been himself, on the important cases.

Posted by: dkdinexile | October 14, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

1678 T. RYMER 'Trag. Last Ages' 12 Thespis introduc'd the Episods, and brought an Actor on stage.

Posted by: edtroyhampton | October 14, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

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