Looks like lots of folks are comparing and contrasting the recent speeches by Supreme Court justices John Roberts and Elena Kagan. Tbh, it’s not too surprising since both of them talked about the legitimacy — or lack thereof — of the Court.
Roberts’s speech was a desperate affair, practically begging folks to see the Court as legitimate, despite the gut punch the Court took to precedent and to fundamental rights in the Dobbs decision. And straight up, Kagan’s speech — which came just a few days after Roberts’s — reads pretty much as a direct response to Roberts, basically saying if the Court fucks around it is gonna find out.
And it turns out Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe — who taught both Roberts and Kagan at HLS — is Team Elena. No shock there. He told Bloomberg Law’s Vivia Chen that Kagan has grown into her role on the Court, while Roberts has shriveled during his time on the Court:
“Having had both John Roberts and Elena Kagan as my brilliant students in constitutional law, and having watched each of their careers unfold, I can’t help thinking that one of them, Justice Kagan, has grown into her role as a wise jurist …,” Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe said when I asked him about Roberts’ latest comment about the Supreme Court, and Kagan’s reaction to it.
On the other hand, “Chief Justice Roberts has dwindled in stature as his cliches have lost their power and even their relevance,” Tribe said.
He also noted the veneer of neutrality Roberts has hid behind for his judicial career is wearing thin:
“I’m afraid Roberts has run his metaphors into the ground, now that the fig leaf of his well-worn umpire image, just calling balls and strikes, has run its course,” Tribe said.
Tough words to hear from your former prof.
Kathryn Rubino is a Senior Editor at Above the Law, host of The Jabot podcast, and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. AtL tipsters are the best, so please connect with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments and follow her on Twitter (@Kathryn1).