There is a conversation out there on the influence that John Roberts from a historical perspective. As potentially the second youngest Chief Justice, only John Marshall was younger, he has the opportunity to have a long and successful career in the Supreme Court.
The present court has been together for 10 years, a long time from a historical perspective. This cohesiveness has allowed strong bonds to forge, even between those who disagree ideologically. When John Roberts becomes Chief Justice, he will have to move slowly and develop his reputation gradually.
President Bush, will in the near future, put another Justice on the court to replace Sandra Day O’Connor. Odds are there will be another opening on the court in the next 3 years, so we have a period where the Bush legacy shall be felt for a long time on the Supreme Court. John Roberts will provide a strong cornerstone for the Supreme Court.
And yet there is more. Roberts will be able to influence much more than the 8 other Supreme Court Justices. The Chief Justice is the head of the whole Federal Court system.
As head of the federal judiciary, he will have administrative responsibility over 1,200 federal judges and a $5.43 billion budget.
Those responsibilities also include important appointive powers over judges who sit on courts such as the Alien Terrorist Removal Court, which can deport foreigners suspected of aiding terrorism, and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court, which considers government requests for wire taps.
So there is a great deal at stake, and with the tea leaves showing that he will have a preponderance of Democrats voting for him, John Roberts has the chance to provide a long and deep legacy.
Update: Of course, some feel that because John Roberts had a privileged upbringing, this should disqualify him from the court. Good to see that the New York Times Book Review endorses means testing.