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John Roberts Fast Facts

CNN Editorial Research

Here’s a look at the life of John Roberts, chief justice of the United States.


Birth date: January 27, 1955

Birth place: Buffalo, New York

Birth name: John Glover Roberts Jr.

Father: John Glover Roberts Sr., steel company executive

Mother: Rosemary (Podrasky) Roberts

Marriage: Jane (Sullivan) Roberts (July 27, 1996-present)

Children: Adopted with Jane Roberts: John and Josephine

Education: Harvard University, A.B., 1976; Harvard Law School, J.D., 1979

Religion: Roman Catholic

Other Facts

He grew up in Long Beach, Indiana.

As an attorney for the government and in private practice, he argued 39 cases before the US Supreme Court and won 25 of them.

He is a member of the American Law Institute, and a member of the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers and chancellor of the Smithsonian Institution.

Roberts is the youngest chief justice since John Marshall in 1801.


1979-1980 – Clerk for Judge Henry J. Friendly, US Court of Appeals, Second Circuit.

1980-1981 – Clerk for Associate Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist.

1981-1982 – Special assistant to US Attorney General William French Smith.

1982-1986 – Associate counsel to President Ronald Reagan.

1986-1989 – Partner and head of the appellate division at Hogan & Hartson, Washington, DC.

1989 – Roberts argues his first case before the Supreme Court: United States v. Halper.

1989-1993 – Principal deputy solicitor general for the US government.

1992 – Is nominated by President George H.W. Bush to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The nomination is never acted upon by the Senate.

1993-2003 – Returns to Hogan & Hartson.

2001 Roberts represents 18 states and the District of Columbia in the appeal to the Microsoft antitrust case, U.S. v. Microsoft.

May 2001 – Is nominated by President George W. Bush to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The vote stalls when the Democrats take control of the Senate in June 2001.

November 13, 2002 – Roberts defends Megan’s Law before the Supreme Court. The law creates a registry for sex offenders that can be searched online.

May 8, 2003 – The Senate unanimously votes to confirm his appointment to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

September 5, 2005 – Is nominated by George W. Bush to be chief justice of the United States following the death of Chief Justice Rehnquist.

September 12-15, 2005 – Senate confirmation hearings take place.

September 29, 2005 – The Senate votes 78-22 to confirm Roberts.

January 21, 2009 – Re-administers the oath of office to President Barack Obama one day after the official swearing-in ceremony, during which Roberts misplaces a word in the oath and causes Obama to stumble over the recitation.

June 28, 2012 – In National Federation of Independent Businesses v. Sebelius, Roberts casts the deciding vote, 5-4, and writes the majority opinion in favor of the Affordable Care Act.

June 25, 2013 – The court strikes down portions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, with Roberts writing in the majority opinion that “our country has changed,” suggesting that many of the issues addressed by the law have been resolved.

June 25, 2015 – Roberts writes the court’s majority decision in King v. Burwell, saving the Affordable Care Act by authorizing federal tax credits for eligible Americans living not only in states with their own exchanges but also in the 34 states with federal marketplaces.

June 26, 2015 – Roberts writes a dissent against the court’s ruling that legalizes same-sex marriage nationwide.

May 23, 2016 – With a majority opinion written by Roberts, the court rules in favor of a death row inmate who claimed he did not get a fair trial because of racial discrimination during the jury selection process.

December 31, 2017 – Roberts announces, in his year-end report on the state of the judiciary, that an evaluation of how the judicial branch handles allegations of sexual harassment will take place in 2018. Roberts says recent events “have illuminated the depth of the problem of sexual harassment in the workplace” and made clear that the “judicial branch is not immune.”

June 26, 2018 – Roberts writes the majority opinion upholding President Donald Trump‘s travel ban stating, “The Proclamation is squarely within the scope of Presidential authority.”

November 21, 2018 – Roberts issues a statement in response to Trump criticizing District Court Judge Jon Tigar as an “Obama judge.” Roberts says, “We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges. What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them. That independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for.”

January 16, 2020 – After being sworn in by Sen. Chuck Grassley, Roberts administers an oath to US senators to do “impartial justice, according to the Constitution and laws. So help me God.” Roberts will preside over the impeachment trial against President Trump.

January 22, 2020 – Scolds both the Democratic House managers and Trump’s defense team after a contentious exchange on the Senate floor during the impeachment trial, saying, “I think it is appropriate for me to admonish both the House managers and the President’s counsel in equal terms to remember that they are addressing the world’s greatest deliberative body.”

January 30, 2020 – Roberts publicly refuses to read a question from Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky during the Senate impeachment trial that names the alleged Ukraine whistleblower.

February 5, 2020 – Roberts is presented a golden gavel for presiding over the trial before thanking the Senate and officially adjourning the trial. Trump was acquitted on both articles of impeachment — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

June 21, 2020 – Roberts is briefly hospitalized after falling while walking near his home, according to a spokeswoman for the Supreme Court.

May 3, 2022 – Roberts announces the Supreme Court will investigate the leak of a draft opinion that would strike down Roe v. Wade. In a statement, Roberts says, “This was a singular and egregious breach of that trust that is an affront to the Court and the community of public servants who work here. I have directed the Marshal of the Court to launch an investigation into the source of the leak.”

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