But Jane was never going to be just an accessory to a famous husband. By the time she met John Roberts she was already a star in the legal firmament in Washington and an activist on many issues.
Her first meeting with her husband speaks volumes. They met at a beach house and she left soon after for a year in Australia. However, that first impression lasted for both of them. When they met again she bet him he didn’t remember what she was wearing the first time they met. He did, and she remembered what he wore too.
She appreciated his intense interest in his own roots in the steel towns in Indiana and his sense of place and culture in a society where firm roots are ever harder to find and define. “We were very attracted to each other,” she says shyly. “We had so much in common.” Besides, she notes, he charmed her Irish mother no end.
She had no qualms when he accepted the Supreme Court job, despite the intense scrutiny. “ I had utter confidence in my husband,” she says. “I had confidence in his intelligence, and his integrity and his ability to handle whatever was asked of him.”
Judge Roberts’ Senate hearings will be remembered as one of the most brilliant confirmation hearings ever, in which he dazzled even his sternest critics.
Ironically now that he is on the court earning about $217,000 Jane is the major breadwinner. A recent story from Ireland noted that Chief Justice of the Irish Supreme Court earned about $450,000 last year.
Jane Sullivan Roberts notes that if Sonia Sotomayor is confirmed there will be six Catholic judges out of nine on the Supreme Court – an indication how far Catholics have come since the bad old days of discrimination, and a testament to Catholic education.
She too mirrors that journey in her own way, from the Bronx to Washington and a firsthand view of history. She stays rooted however in what got her there, her family, her heritage and her faith. “I am truly blessed on all those fronts,” she says.