Greenhouse on Roberts and Race:
In an essay comparing John Roberts and Barack Obama, Linda Greenhouse makes a link between Roberts' career success and his approach to the constitutionality of affirmative action:
Doing well in all the right places — a huge achievement but in some ways a career path without risk to a sense of identity — offered great rewards and appears to have left [Robert] with few doubts about how the world works, or should work, if his legal writings are the measure. "The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race," was his uncomplicated explanation in a 2007 opinion on why Louisville and Seattle could not constitutionally use student assignments to keep their public schools from resegregating after finally having achieved a measure of integration.
  Can anyone help me draw the link here? I can see arguing that a person who had a lot of success in a grade-and-numbers-focused meritocracy might have a strong belief in grade-and-numbers-focused meritocracy, so much that they would oppose affirmative action. But as far as I can tell, Greenhouse isn't suggesting that. Rather, she appears to be suggesting that Roberts' success makes him overconfident, and that his overconfidence leads him to uncomplicated (which I think it's safe to say here means "overly simplistic") views of hard constitutional problems. But it's hard to see how Roberts' view of the constitutionality of affirmative action supports this: Justice Thomas has the same view, and I don't think Justice Thomas's life has been a story of constant success that left him with few doubts about the world. Maybe the idea is that Greenhouse is so strongly in favor of affirmative action that someone who thinks it is simply unconstitutional must have a quirky life history to explain it?

  Finally, in light of the recent articles comparing Obama and Roberts, ranging from Greenhouse's in the New York Times to Dahlia Lithwick's in Newsweek, I should flag my own post drawing this comparison back in August.

  UPDATE: Commenter KRS points out that Greenhouse offered similar speculation back in 2007 on the relationship between Roberts' career success and his views on statutory filing deadlines. After the Chief Justice suffered a seizure, Greenhouse speculated:
  [M]ight this encounter with illness even change the way John Roberts sees himself, his job or the world?
  Prof. William H. Chafe, a historian at Duke University, published a book last year, ''Private Lives, Public Consequences: Personality and Politics in Modern America,'' in which he presented portraits of prominent 20th-century Americans, including Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton.
  Professor Chafe argued that trauma or tragedy strengthened them and gave them the qualities of leadership they displayed later in life. Could adversity temper a jurisprudence that critics of the chief justice have discerned as bloodless and unduly distant from the messy reality of the lives of ordinary people who fail to file their appeals on time?
  I don't see this speculation as revealing anything about Roberts, but it does seem to help explain the worldview of Greenhouse.