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Roberts' First Opinion

John Roberts first signed opinion as Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court was issued today, a unanimous opinion in Martin v. Franklin Capital Corp. Here it is.

[Note: Post edited as indicated to correct an error. As a commenter noted below, John Roberts is Chief Justice of the United States, not of the United States Supreme Court.]

UPDATE: Tony Mauro's article on the Roberts opinion closes with this interesting nugget:

For anyone who attended the oral argument in the case, Wednesday's decision also shows that Roberts is unafraid of standing up to Justice Antonin Scalia. One of the relevant precedents in the case was a 1968 case called Newman v. Piggie Park Enterprises. When one of the lawyers at argument referred to the case by the shorthand Piggie Park, Scalia interrupted and said, only half-jokingly, "You know, it really would improve the dignity of this Court if we referred to Piggie Park as Newman."

Without apology, Roberts referred to the case throughout his opinion Wednesday as Piggie Park.

magoo (mail):
Cites both CJ Rehnquist and Judge Friendly. Very nice tip of the hat to his mentors. He's a class act.
12.7.2005 11:43am
Anderson (mail) (www):
Great, and here I am in the 5th Circuit trying to get att'y fees on remand. Curse you, John Roberts!

(Actually, the rule he applies is probably a good idea, but what is "objectively reasonable" is open to an awful lot of discretion. Anyway, like so much in removal jurisprudence, it's an issue the Court needed to address.)
12.7.2005 12:06pm
Steve:
A trivial point, but didn't Rehnquist's opinions open with "THE CHIEF JUSTICE delivered the opinion of the Court," as opposed to this opinion, which references Roberts by name?
12.7.2005 1:04pm
Tuch (mail):
Roberts mentioned that the remover's bad motive, e.g. delay, might make the removal unreasonable. How is the district judge to decide as to the remover's motive?
12.7.2005 1:41pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
It's delaying if it's unreasonable, and it's unreasonable if it's delaying.

Easy enough!
12.7.2005 1:54pm
Greedy Clerk (mail):
John Robert is Chief Justice of the United States. He is not "Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court."
12.7.2005 2:00pm
Defending the Indefensible:
I appreciated that the opinion spent an extra page exploring the jurisprudential guidance in general, as opposed to limiting the opinion to the facts immediately before the court. This serves judicial economy and limits ambiguity in how lower courts ought to handle similar issues in the future.
12.7.2005 2:22pm
Juan Non-Volokh (mail) (www):
greedy Clerk --

You are correct. My mistake. I'll fix the post above.

JNoV
12.7.2005 2:44pm
SimonD (www):
The office is often but incorrectly referred to as "Chief Justice of the Supreme Court." The United States Code specifies the title as "Chief Justice of the United States," and thus, not just of the Court itself. The title changed at the suggestion of Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase, who wished to emphasize the Court's role as a coequal branch of government.
12.7.2005 3:39pm
Juan Non-Volokh (mail) (www):
A careful reader who would like to remain particularly anonymous has an answer to Steve's question above:
Rehnquist's opinions, at least all the majority opinions from last term, lead with "Chief Justice Rehnquist announced." Also, the lineup on the syllabus, says "Rehnquist, C.J." So Roberts is right in line with this practice. But when Rehnquist's name appears IN THE TEXT OF THE SYLLABUS, it shows up as "The Chief Justice." But the name of a justice will rarely appear in the text of the syllabus -- basically, only when there's a splintered majority. So, last term, you can see this in Van Orden v. Perry.
12.7.2005 4:44pm
Ira B. Matetsky (mail):
In further answer to Steve's question, when the Chief Justice joins an opinion by another Justice, the opening line indeed reads "Justice X, joined by THE CHIEF JUSTICE, concurring/dissenting/etc." However, when the Chief Justice is the author of the opinion, the surname is used, as in "CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS delivered the opinion of the Court." By my observation, this has been the protocol for 100 years or more.

Similarly with respect to internal references, as Mr. Non-Volokh brings up, the rule is that a reference in an Associate Justice's opinion to the sitting Chief Justice is to "THE CHIEF JUSTICE." The papers of Walter Wyatt, who was Reporter of Decisions from 1946 to 1963, contain a letter from one of the Justices (I believe Frankfurter), demanding an explanation for the fact that a recently circulated opinion referred to "Chief Justice Vinson" rather than "The Chief Justice." Wyatt's response -- that the same opinion had contained an earlier reference to the late Chief Justice Stone, so that "The Chief Justice" would have been ambiguous in that instance -- satisfied that particular inquiry, but the exchange is a reminder that the Court has taken such matters of protocol very seriously.
12.7.2005 10:05pm
Steve:
I appreciate the responses, as well as Judge Kozinski's desire to remain anonymous.
12.7.2005 10:46pm
DJ (mail):
It shouldn't be overlooked that many historians believe that Chief Justice Chase changed his appellation to "Chief Justice of the United States" to aggrandize his own ego and promote his designs to become President of the United States. Oh, and also to emphasize the infallibility of the Union.
12.8.2005 4:33pm