John Roberts’ legal resume is so impeccable that it is almost superhuman. He went to college at Harvard, graduating summa cum laude, and stayed for law school, graduating magna cum laude. After law school, he clerked for the legendary Judge Friendly at the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York, then Justice Reinquist on the Supreme Court of the United States, and later worked as Associate Counsel to the President under Reagan. Between 1986 and 2003, he worked in private practice, and argued before the Supreme Court 39 times (to argue before the Supreme Court even once is usually considered the highlight of a legal career). Finally, he’s spent the last two years serving on the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, which is widely considered the most important of the federal courts because of it handles most of the cases involving federal agencies.
So the latest story on the Roberts’ confirmation shows a refreshingly human side of the nominee – it turns out Roberts thinks Michael Jackson is annoying, just like everyone else does (well, almost everyone else). Roberts was ahead of the curve, arguing in a 1984 memo that there was no need to issue a Presidential letter praising Jackson for his community service, merely because the singer had requested one:
“The office of presidential correspondence is not yet an adjunct of Michael Jackson’s PR firm,” Roberts wrote in a memo to his boss on June 22, 1984, opposing a request by the singer’s publicist for a presidential letter praising the star’s work against drunken driving.
The Washington Post, which broke the story, couldn’t resist making a reference to one of Jackson’s hits:
It was two decades before Jackson’s celebrated legal troubles, but the prescient Roberts wanted to be startin’ somethin’. A separate memo denying the request, drafted by Roberts for Fred F. Fielding, the White House counsel, says: “I see no need to have the president send a letter to Mr. Jackson, simply because Mr. Jackson’s public relations firm has requested one.”
Roberts even managed to throw a jab at Jackson’s music into the memo:
The request came to the attention of Roberts, who wrote on Sept. 21 to Fielding: “I hate to sound like one of Mr. Jackson’s records, constantly repeating the same refrain, but I recommend that we not approve this letter. . . . Frankly, I find the obsequious attitude of some members of the White House staff toward Mr. Jackson’s attendants, and the fawning posture they would have the president of the United States adopt, more than a little embarrassing.”