|Chief Justice John Roberts with President Obama
Chief Justice John Roberts has become the hero, or villain, of the hour depending on your politics on the Supreme Court decision.
Roberts voted with the liberal side, throwing the left and right into chaos as they pondered this new reality in a case where most believed a 5-4 majority was dependent on Judge Kennedy not Roberts.
I am not totally surprised. I met Roberts when he came to our inaugural Legal 100 event for Irish America Magazine, held at the Irish Embassy a few years back. I found him far form being the right wing ideologue so many have painted him.
He and his wife, Jane Sullivan Roberts, are frequent visitors to Ireland where they have a holiday home in the Shannon area.
They are a very pleasant couple, very little airs or graces and clearly not overly impressed with their own importance.
Jane Sullivan is a major powerhouse in her own right, a daughter of Irish immigrants who long before her husband had gained his prominent position had been on of DC’s top attorneys.
Roberts is very fond of Ireland and has taught courses there. Indeed, much of my conversation with him was about finding a thatcher for the roof in the Irish cottage, which was in need of repair.
Roberts is one of six Catholics on the Supreme Court, Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alioto and Sonia Sotamayor are the others.
How much his Catholic fate influences him or indeed how it affects all the other Supreme Court Catholics will never be known.
There was a time when the idea of six Catholics on the Supreme Court was a pipe dream and a complete fantasy.
No more. The most important laws in the land are now being shaped by leading Catholics from liberals like Sotamayor to conservatives like Scalia.
It is quite a turn in terms of history and Roberts decision to side with the four liberal justices will be analyzed form pillar to post.
We will never know why but clearly like a good Catholic he voted his conscience on this issue.