Document Type

Article

Publication Date

3-2014

Abstract

During 2005, President George W. Bush appointed Federal Circuit Court Judges John G. Roberts and Samuel A. Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court. These appointments were the culmination of years of examination of the work, character, and temperament of both men commencing during the 2000 presidential transition. Our evaluation included face-to-face interviews; an analysis of judicial opinions, speeches, and writings; and conversation with friends, colleagues, and court experts. Based on this work, a select group of Bush Administration officials developed a set of predictors that formed the basis of our recommendation to President Bush that he elevate Circuit Court Judges Roberts and Alito to the Supreme Court. This Article explains how Judges Roberts and Alito were evaluated, and our assessment of how they would perform on the Court. The Article then examines whether the Bush Administration correctly predicted how these two men would decide cases before the Court by reviewing some of their most significant opinions to date. We begin with an explanation of the process used in developing our recommendation to the President followed by a thorough examination of the factors we weighed (such as political considerations and confirmation challenges). The Article includes a thorough, though certainly not exhaustive, review of the circuit court opinions of each man. This early body of work is then compared to their most recent work on the Supreme Court in certain key areas of the law. There is a remarkable, though not unexpected, consistency between Justices Roberts’s and Alito’s jurisprudence on the circuit courts and on the Supreme Court. Based on this comparison, the Article concludes that the Bush Administration successfully anticipated that Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito would decide cases using a consistent set of principles including judicial restraint, respect for precedent, and statutory interpretation based on plain language.

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