Quote Of The Day: A Puckish John Roberts Story

“Before serving as an associate counsel in the Reagan White House, Roberts worked at the Justice Department under Attorney General William French Smith. He returned to the department in 1989, serving as principal deputy solicitor general under President George H.W. Bush.

The Reagan-era memos portray a cocksure young lawyer whose writing was clear, highly attuned to political realities and occasionally sarcastic.

Take, for instance, Roberts’s response to a request sent by then-Rep. Elliott Levitas (D-Ga.) to Reagan. In 1983, the Supreme Court struck down laws that contained provisions for Congress to veto actions taken by executive departments and agencies. Levitas wanted to meet with Reagan to determine “the manner of power sharing and accountability within in the federal government.” The request offended Roberts’s notion of the proper separation of powers.

“There already has, of course, been a ‘Conference on Power Sharing,’ ” Roberts wrote, sarcastically referring to the convention at which the Constitution was drafted. “It took place in Philadelphia’s Constitution Hall in 1787, and someone should tell Levitas about it and the ‘report’ it issued.” — The WAPO

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