John Roberts Drives a Minivan,
at least according to the picture of him currently gracing the homepage of This gives me considerable pause, but on further reflection I remain of the opinion that he should be confirmed as Chief Justice of the United States.
Halfway between a car and a truck.

More evidence that he is a moderate?
9.29.2005 11:58am
Before you knew what he drove, Orin, what did you picture? A Boxster? A Mustang? Please. If there was ever a minivan kind of guy, it is John Roberts.
9.29.2005 12:00pm
Jay Goodman Tamboli (mail) (www):
According to NationalJournal's NewsBlog, he drives a Volvo. I am concerned by this discrepancy.
9.29.2005 12:03pm
Chris24601 (mail):
I thought he drives a PT Cruiser. Mickey Kaus: "An ugly, immature attempt at returning to an earlier era! Is that what the Constitution will look like after Roberts is through with it?" The PT is also halfway between a car and a truck in a way. I certainly hope he doesn't drive an El Camino car-truck as well.
9.29.2005 12:16pm
I'd disagree with Kaus. The PT Cruiser is best described as something that looks a little retro on the outside, but is actually just a basic economy vehicle on the inside--the David Souter of cars if you will. Now if he drove a Chrysler 300C Hemi, then Kaus might have a point.
9.29.2005 12:21pm
Gordon (mail):
John Roberts has two young childrenm, who will eventually grow up and play in lots of soccer games. He would be a fool not to own a minivan.

His OTHER car can be a Prius ...
9.29.2005 12:24pm

Exactly: you make him sound like a sensible, middle-of-the-road pragmatist. Indeed, can anyone deny that the minivan is the Justice O'Connor of vehicles?

I just suspect that some people would prefer for him to drive his kids to their games in his pickup truck, on the grounds that whether or not that is the sensible choice today, the pickup is a vehicle our founding fathers would have preferred.
9.29.2005 12:41pm
Mr. Bingley (www):
My kind of guy!

Us sensitive 90's-types who drive minivans are comfortable with our emasculinity.
9.29.2005 12:55pm
Crane (mail):
Metis said

...whether or not that is the sensible choice today, the pickup is a vehicle our founding fathers would have preferred.

How do they know?

Or is that one of those "What Would Jesus Drive" things, where the answer is either an SUV or a hybrid, depending on your politics?
9.29.2005 1:20pm
aslanfan (mail):
A Hummer would be disqualifying.
9.29.2005 1:21pm
Mr. Bingley (www):
If you look at the picture it's a Honda. I'm sure we'll start hearing about how unpatriotic he is (even though it is built in the US).
9.29.2005 1:32pm
9.29.2005 1:47pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Maybe we'll get lucky and the next nominee will drive the Knight Industries Two Thousand.
9.29.2005 2:06pm
Preferred Customer (mail):
As much as I wish it weren't true, whether one is a car enthusiast says little about one's suitability for public office. Leonid Brezhnev, for example, was said to have an extensive car collection and to really enjoy driving, but I wouldn't want him on the Court. Similarly, I hear that Sean Penn drives a pretty bad-ass Buick Regal Grand National, but it doesn't make him any less pompous.

That said, why can't we just once have a President or Chief Justice that drives something interesting? A 300C would be a good start, or an E55 AMG, or a BMW M5, or a Mustang...

I think it all boils down to the fact that Washington is one of the least car-focused environments I've ever had the misfortune of enduring.
9.29.2005 2:09pm
Justin (mail):
John Roberts also has a membership at RTJ golf course. Think he's hired his clerks for next year yet?
9.29.2005 2:41pm
SimonD (www):
Proud owner of a Pontiac Montana. Unashamed to be a suburban-dwelling breeder!
9.29.2005 2:49pm
Nobody Special:
Doesn't Alex Kozinski drive some late 1980s/early 1990s monstrosity of a van conversion?

Be careful in reading too much into vehicles.
9.29.2005 2:50pm
SimonD (www):
Indeed, can anyone deny that the minivan is the Justice O'Connor of vehicles?
What kind of vehicle do we suppose might best represent other Justices of the Supreme Court? Justice Scalia, presumably, would be Bigfoot 3, but what might Breyer or Souter be?
9.29.2005 2:53pm
It's unbelievable that people would spend their day bickering over what type of vehicle Justices are or what Chief Justice Roberts should be driving. As if any of these things are even debatable?! Yes, Justice O'Connor was the mini-van of the Court; Roberts is a Volvo kind of guy; Stephens is an old Caddy with giant fins and those bullet-shaped tail lights; James Madison loved F-150s; and Justice Scalia is the Truck-a-Saurus of the Supreme Court. If anyone disagrees with these self-evident truths, punches will be thrown.

No, seriously, get back to work. You'll want these precious minutes back when you're on your deathbeds.
9.29.2005 3:06pm
Matt22191 (mail):
"This gives me considerable pause. . . "


I want my 4WD Suburban back.
9.29.2005 3:18pm
Supermike (mail):
I heard (from a reliable source) that Justice Thomas drives a really kick-ass corvette!
9.29.2005 3:30pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
I know Professor Kerr is joking, but being serious about this for a moment, a minivan is a VERY responsible choice of car for a parent of young children like Chief Justice Roberts. Indeed, part of the SUV craze is fueled by parents who think that minivans-- the safest and most fuel efficient choice for families-- look wimpy and they want something more "aggressive" and disdainful of other drivers on the road. (That they increase their children's chances of dying in a rollover accident and consume more fossil fuels to obtain this is, of course, shameful.)

If anything, I think that the new Chief's choice of vehicles speaks very well of him.
9.29.2005 4:36pm
UBalt 2L:
Wasn't that a horrid picture? Talk about desperate to get a photo. I thought it was invasive and unnecessary. Dig something out of a file or ask the man to smile for a second. If I were an editor I wouldn't pay a dime for a shot like that.
9.29.2005 4:36pm
Houston Lawyer:
Is that the look of a man who is about to back over a bunch of paparazzi? Would that be illegal? Could he be impeached for it?
9.29.2005 6:11pm
A reader:
If he were a true originalist, he would be riding a horse.
9.29.2005 7:05pm
Robert Schwartz (mail):
As Mr. Tamboli suggested above, I saw a news clip of Roberts pulling out of the Driveway in a not very new Volvo, one of the boxy ones from the 90s. Being a married suburbanite with children, the answer to the speculation above is that the Minivan belongs to Mrs. Roberts, but that when the whole family is in the car he drives, leastwise that is the way it works chez nous.

Does the Chief get a govt. car w/ driver?
9.30.2005 12:51am
SimonD (www):
Being a married suburbanite with children, the answer to the speculation above is that the Minivan belongs to Mrs. Roberts, but that when the whole family is in the car he drives, leastwise that is the way it works chez nous.
Ah, he is then certainly familiar with the argument that I have with my wife every time I drive, she being seven inches shorter than I, as to how far forward the drivers seat should be left.
9.30.2005 1:08am

I'm pretty sure that on my deathbed, I will more regret the time I spent working than the time I spent joking.


It is always a little awkward applying originalism in light of new science and technology (see Scalia on the internet and the First Amendment). But I would reason thusly: modern farmers mostly like pickups. The founders were mostly farmers. Hence, the founders would prefer pickups if they had a chance to consider the issue.

Incidentally, the same basic argument works for things like gay marriage too.
9.30.2005 8:25am
Crane (mail):
Medis -

Interesting argument. On the other hand, since a pickup is basically the modern equivalent of a farm wagon, I suspect that the founders would have treated it as such - a useful thing to have on the farm, but not what you'd drive around town in if you could afford to have more than one vehicle. Since the founders were mostly among the wealthiest Americans, I don't think many of them did their personal travel in farm wagons.

I bet many of the founders were opposed to interracial marriage, too.
9.30.2005 2:29pm

Yes, I think a suitable roadster would also be reasonably originalist on a buggy-wagon theory. Perhaps chauffer-driven town cars for carriages. And Harleys, of course, for horses.
9.30.2005 3:49pm
Crane (mail):
Heh. I have a sudden vision of Ben Franklin cruising for chicks in a red sports car...
9.30.2005 6:43pm