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Chief justice to speak at UA

Alan Blinder

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Chief Justice John Roberts will make a rare public speech Tuesday during a visit to the University.

Roberts, who will speak at the Law School Tuesday at 2 p.m., will be the ninth Supreme Court justice to visit Tuscaloosa since 1996 as a part of the Albritton Lecture Series. Justice Clarence Thomas delivered the most recent lecture back in October.

President George W. Bush nominated Roberts for the Supreme Court in 2005 to fill the seat of Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who died in office. Roberts, who earned his undergraduate and law degrees at Harvard University, previously served as a federal appeals court judge and held several posts in the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

Public remarks from Supreme Court justices are relatively rare and tend to attract substantial attention. In addition, C-SPAN is planning live coverage of Roberts’ speech.

Aaron Latham, a spokesman for the Law School, said Roberts’ appearance will be a milestone event for many law students.

“It’s very rare that law students here at Alabama or at any other law school have the opportunity to ask questions of the highest ranking judicial officer in our nation,” Latham said. “It is so unique and so rare to have essentially front-row access to the chief justice of the United States.”

After Roberts’ appearance, the University’s Albritton Lecture Series, which federal judge William Albritton III, a UA Law alumnus, established, will have brought seven of the nine sitting members of the high court to Tuscaloosa. Justices John Paul Stevens and Sonia Sotomayor, who was confirmed in 2009, have not spoken at the Capstone.

Latham said the lecture series has brought the law school national acclaim. “Since we started the lecture series in 1996, we have, over time, built a reputation for providing our students with access to major movers and shakers in the legal world,” he said. “In some portion, that is responsible for the Law School currently having a 100 percent year-to-date increase in applications.”

Roberts’ speech is open to the public, though seating is limited. Book bags, handbags and large coats are prohibited.

Individuals who miss the lecture will be able to view it on the law school’s Web site, as well as on the University’s iTunesU page beginning the week of March 15.

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Chief justice to speak at UA