(Author's Note: Yesterday I said that I had two observations about John Roberts, who was confirmed as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in 2005. My first observation was an expression of awe at the mad dancing skills of the judge's son. Today's comment is far more political.)
The following is a previously unpublished exchange from the Senate confirmation hearings, in which former personal injury attorney, North Carolina senator, and Vice Presidential nominee John Edwards was invited to grill Judge Roberts on the only issue that matters.
EDWARDS: You, of course, realize that a Supreme Court appointment has no term limit.
EDWARDS: And that you could, at least in theory, serve for as long as you live.
ROBERTS: Yes, I understand that.
EDWARDS: So, should you be confirmed by this Senate, you would expect to still be on the Supreme Court in, say, three years?
ROBERTS: Well... yes, if I were to be confirmed, I would expect that. But I'm not sure what you're getting at.
EDWARDS: The 2008 Presidential election is approaching, and while I haven't decided whether or not to declare my candidacy, I would at least like to think that I have that option.
ROBERTS: Naturally you would. So, is this a question about campaign finance reform?
EDWARDS: No. My concern is that... well, how should I put this? You would be considered in select circles to be a handsome man.
ROBERTS: Okay. Well, thank you.
EDWARDS: No problem. Here's the thing: when I was a Senator, and later when I was on John Kerry's Presidential ticket, I was thought of in those same circles as a handsome man.
ROBERTS: Very well. I can see that.
EDWARDS: Oh, that's so kind of you to say.
ROBERTS: You're quite welcome.
EDWARDS: By the way, is this line of questioning bothering you?
ROBERTS: Not at all. This is the most interesting conversation I've had all week.
EDWARDS: Great. Anyway, this is my question: would there be any Constitutional problem if the Chief Justice were a handsome man, and then in 2008 someone were elected President...
ROBERTS: Someone like you?
EDWARDS: For the sake of argument.
ROBERTS: Okay. How would that be a Constitutional problem?
EDWARDS: Well, it's just that if there were handsome men heading the executive and judicial branches of our great government...
ROBERTS: Oh! Now I understand. This is a question about separation of powers, and checks and balances.
EDWARDS: Yes, yes, that's it exactly! Did the founding fathers say anything to guard against all that handsomeness?
ROBERTS: Well, probably not, but I don't think there's a problem.
EDWARDS: You don't? That's good to know. Why not?
ROBERTS: Because we still have the legislative branch, and Congress will always be ugly.