Chief Justice weighs in
Chief Justice John Roberts spent two days last week at the School of Law as the Howard J. Trienens Visiting Judicial Scholar. During his stay, he met with faculty and students and delivered a lecture in Thorne Auditorium. Below are excerpts from the question and answer session that followed his talk.
[listen to the audio}
On pay for judges “I recognize that the amount of pay a district judge makes...is a significant amount. On the other hand the question is whether or not it’s too low to attract the sort of people we should be attracting to the federal bench. I think the best lawyers should become federal judges. The best trial lawyers in major cities like Chicago make many times more than what we pay federal district judges. The result has been that the best lawyers are not becoming federal judges.”
On term limits “I’m not in favor of term limits for justices. [They] subject the court to a bit of gamesmanship. If you look on the list and you can see so and so is due to go off the court next year, somebody else is going to go off in two years after that...I think the uncertainty of the composition of the court is overall beneficial.”
On working with more experienced colleagues “If you have the best idea about how to approach a particular matter or brief a particular issue, the others are probably going to accept it. It’s one of the things that is great about our profession. In my experience, you tend not to get a hierarchical approach to the legal practice.”
On legal education today “People coming out of law school tend to be, in my estimation, much better qualified than people were when I came out of law school because there tends to be a greater breadth to their experience. [They] are very bright, but I don’t think they spend a great deal of time [on] rhetoric, taking their understanding and ideas and being able to communicate them in a particular way, either as an advocate or in an explanatory way. And that is such big part of what lawyers do, no matter where you go. If you’re an advocate, you have to find a way to persuade a judge. If you’re negotiating, you have to find a way to bring your opponent around to your point of view.”