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.
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