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Clues Emerge to Roberts' Views

Supreme Court nominee John Roberts (left) walks in for a meeting with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) on Capitol Hill, Aug. 9, 2005. Reuters hide caption

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Being a judge is "a lot harder than I thought it would be," Supreme Court nominee John Roberts told Wake Forest University students in a speech delivered last February.

According to a report in Wednesday's Los Angeles Times, Roberts' Feb. 25 speech may have been his last public remarks before he began being vetted as a candidate for the high court. Along with hundreds of Roberts-related documents released by the National Archives Thursday, the Wake Forest speech offers insight on Roberts' views on the role of the courts.

Speech Highlights

Hear what Roberts had to say:

Audio courtesy Los Angeles Times

On the Difficulty of Deciding What the 'Right' Ruling Should Be, and the Shift from Attorney to Judge

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/4795753/4796772" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

On Getting 'Judicial Lockjaw'

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/4795753/4795828" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

On His Aversion to Strident Briefs from Attorneys

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/4795753/4795830" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

On the Crucial Role of Oral Arguments

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/4795753/4796099" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

On the Deliberative Process of Judges

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/4795753/4796101" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

On the Supremacy of Reason

Audio for this story is unavailable.

On the Importance of Maintaining a Unified Court

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/4795753/4796777" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Roberts on Being a Judge

Clues Emerge to Roberts' Views

Only Available in Archive Formats.

The speech offers hints that Roberts may not be as ideologically rigid as some opponents have suggested. He said he believes judicial decisions should be the product of dispassionate thinking. He also describes the decision-making process as a fluid one in which reading, debating and writing opinions could lead judges to a different point of view on a case than the one they originally held.

"It is not at all unusual in my own experience to have one view of the case when you finish reading the briefs," Roberts said, "a different view of the case when you sit down and debate it with your clerks, another view of the case after oral arguments, and you're back again at a different view after the conference [with other judges]. Then as you go through the writing process, you come up with either the original view, a third view [or] the second view."

The tape, obtained by the Times, is under review by the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is set to hold confirmation hearings for Roberts beginning Sept. 6.

The committee is also expected to review approximately 500 documents released Thursday by the National Archives. The papers relate to Roberts' tenure as special assistant to the attorney general in 1981-82.

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