John Roberts was born in Buffalo, New York on January 27, 1955, the son of John Glover (Jack) Roberts, Sr. and Rosemary. His father was a plant manager with Bethlehem Steel. When Roberts was in fourth grade, his family moved to the beachside town of Long Beach, Indiana. He have three sisters: Kathy, Peggy, and Barbara.
Roberts attended Notre Dame Elementary School, a Roman Catholic grade school in Long Beach, and then La Lumiere School, a Roman Catholic boarding school in LaPorte, Indiana, where he was an excellent student and athlete. He studied five years of Latin in four years, French, and was devoted to his studies. He was captain of the football team and was a regional champion in wrestling. He participated in choir and drama, co-edited the school newspaper, and served on the athletic council and the executive committee of the student council. He was also valedictorian.[an academic title conferred upon the highest ranked student among those graduating from an educational institution.]
He attended Harvard College, graduating with an A.B. in history summa cum laude in three years. He then attended Harvard Law School where he was the managing editor of the Harvard Law Review. He graduated from law school with a J.D. magna cum laude in 1979.
After graduating from law school, Roberts served as a law clerk for Judge Henry Friendly on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals for one year. From 1980 to 1981, he clerked for then-Associate Justice William Rehnquist on the United States Supreme Court. From 1981 to 1982, he served in the Reagan administration as a Special Assistant to U.S. Attorney General William French Smith. From 1982 to 1986, Roberts served as Associate Counsel to the President under White House Counsel Fred Fielding.
Roberts entered private law practice in 1986 as an associate at the Washington, D.C.-based law firm of Hogan & Hartson, but left to serve in the George H. W. Bush administration as Principal Deputy Solicitor General from 1989 to 1993. In 1992, George H. W. Bush nominated Roberts to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, but no Senate vote was held, and Roberts’s nomination expired when Bush left office after losing the 1992 presidential election.
Roberts returned to Hogan & Hartson as a partner and became the head of the firm’s appellate practice, in addition to serving as an adjunct faculty member at the Georgetown University Law Center. He argued 39 cases in the Supreme Court and was highly regarded as one of the best advocates in the history of the court.
On July 19, 2005, President Bush nominated Roberts to the U.S. Supreme Court to fill a vacancy that would be created by the retirement of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Roberts was the first Supreme Court nominee since Stephen Breyer in 1994. But on September 6, Bush withdrew Roberts’s nomination as O’Connor’s successor and announced Roberts’s new nomination to the position of Chief Justice. On September 22, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved Roberts’s nomination and on September 29, Roberts was confirmed by the full Senate as Chief Justice. Roberts took the Constitutional oath of office, administered by senior Associate Justice John Paul Stevens at the White House, on September 29. On October 3, he took the judicial oath provided for by the Judiciary Act of 1789 at the United States Supreme Court building. Then 50, Roberts became the youngest member of the Court, and the third-youngest person to have ever become Chief Justice (John Jay was appointed at age 44 in 1789 while John Marshall was appointed at age 45 in 1801).
Roberts is one of thirteen Catholic justices — out of 111 justices total — in the history of the Supreme Court. Roberts married Jane Sullivan in Washington in 1996. She is an attorney, a Catholic, and a trustee (along with Clarence Thomas) at her alma mater, the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. The couple adopted two children, John (Jack) and Josephine (Josie). Roberts suffered a seizure on July 30, 2007, he had suffered a similar seizure in 1993.