Chief Justice John G. Roberts helped the University of Idaho law school mark its centennial Thursday in Boise, saluting the U of I for addressing western issues and sustaining a tradition of the states as laboratories of experimentation.
Roberts mentioned the College of Law’s joint degree program in water resources management and the U of I’s Idaho Water Center in Boise. He singled out western law schools as institutions that combine pioneer spirit with the rule of law.
The chief justice was in Boise only for a few hours. He was to fly to Thursday night to Moscow, where he will deliver the annual Bellwood lecture on Friday afternoon.
Roberts drew a crowd of 750 to the Boise Centre on the Grove, which heard a seven-minute speech. He began with a self-deprecating story about the obscurity enveloping some former chief justices.
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He asked for raised hands from anyone who could name the chief justice when the U of I law school was founded in 1909. None shot up, so Roberts gave the answer: Melville Fuller, chief from 1888-1910.
"Whenever I'm concerned that maybe the office might be going to my head, I walk into the conference rooms where we have on the wall portraits of all the chief justices," Roberts said, "familiar names like John Rutledge, Oliver Ellsworth, Morrison Waite, Melville Fuller, Edward White — probably names that many here are hearing for the very first time."
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