John Roberts, Historian





Ms. Bernstein is an intern at HNN and an undergraduate at Wesleyan University.

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Judge John G. Roberts, the nominee picked by President Bush for the Supreme Court to take the place of retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Conner, has earned many honors in life, starting with several awards for papers concerned with history, which he earned while an undergraduate at Harvard University in the early 1970s.

Judge Roberts graduated from Harvard in 1976 and then continued on to Harvard Law School. However, law was not always the career path he intended to take. “John loved history," recalled Roberts's college roommate, Robert N. Bush, in an interview with the Harvard Crimson, "and said he’d be a history professor." He majored in history and wrote a thesis. But by his final year as an undergraduate he had changed his mind and decided to go to law school instead.

The Summa Cum Laude graduate took only three years to finish his undergraduate work. A gifted student, he received two academic awards during his college years, both concerning history. The first award, which he shared with another student, was the William Scott Ferguson Award. He won the award in the academic year 1973-1974 for an essay entitled, “Marxism and Bolshevism: Theory and Practice.” A description of this award provided by the Harvard University Department of Arts and Sciences states that it is, “annually given to a sophomore concentrating in history who has written an outstanding essay as part of a tutorial assignment.”

Roberts received his second award for the academic year 1975-1976, this time for his essay, “The Utopian Conservative: A study of Continuity and Change in the Thought of Daniel Webster.” Roberts was honored with one of the Bowdoin Prizes for Undergraduates, which was awarded to him for his excellence in writing an essay in English intended for a general audience. In his short time on the bench as an appelate judge Roberts became known for his witty and clear prose. In an opinion in 2003 in which he dissented from the majority who had voted to approve federal intervention to protect the California arroyo toad, Roberts wrote, "The panel's approach in this case leads to the result that regulating the taking of a hapless toad that, for reasons of its own, lives its entire life in California."

To finish out his already impressive undergraduate academic career at Harvard, Judge Roberts wrote his senior thesis on British political history, “Old and New Liberalism: The British Liberal Party’s Approach to Social Problems, 1906-1914.”

His thesis and some of his award winning essays can be found at the Harvard University Archives.


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Kenneth R Gregg - 7/29/2005

I'd love to do a review of “Old and New Liberalism: The British Liberal Party’s Approach to Social Problems, 1906-1914.” Being familiar with the subject and the period, it might give a good idea of Roberts' orientation.

Just a thought.
Just Ken
kgregglv@cox.net
http://classicalliberalism.blogspot.com/


Alfred L. Brophy - 7/23/2005

Very nice article. Thanks, Ms. Bernstein and HNN.


Alfred L. Brophy - 7/23/2005

Very nice article. Thanks, Ms. Bernstein and HNN.

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