Post Date: September 29, 2005

Following a 78 to 22 confirmation vote by the U.S. Senate, today Harvard Law School graduate John Roberts became chief justice of the United States, the highest ranking position in the American judiciary. A member of the Harvard Law class of ’79 and a 1976 Harvard College graduate, Roberts is the sixth member of the current Supreme Court to attend Harvard Law School.

Following the death of chief justice William Rehnquist in early September, President Bush nominated Roberts to be the next chief justice. Bush had already nominated Roberts to be an associate justice on the Supreme Court in July.

Two weeks ago, Roberts spent several days testifying and answering questions before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Among those testifying on behalf of Roberts was Harvard Law Professor Charles Fried, a former U.S. solicitor general.

Roberts is the first Harvard Law graduate to be chief justice. (Melville Weston Fuller, who served as chief justice from 1888 to 1910, attended HLS for one year, but did not graduate.)

The other alumni justices on the current court are Anthony Kennedy ’61, Antonin Scalia ’60, David Souter ’66, Stephen Breyer ’64, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who attended HLS from 1956 to 1958 and ultimately received her degree from Columbia Law School.

Click here to see a list of all Harvard Law School alumni who have served on the Supreme Court.

In 2003, Bush appointed Roberts to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Roberts previously served as the principal deputy solicitor general in the administration of President George H.W. Bush and as a lawyer in the Reagan White House. He has also worked in private practice.