10/17/2005 12:57 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

My First Week on the Job

Notes From Judge Roberts’ First Two Weeks:

What a couple of weeks. I know getting a job is better than actually performing it but still, you’d think the Supreme Court would be more fun than this.

First of all, as Chief Justice, I just assumed I was the boss and like all bosses, I could bring in my own people. But no. I have eight judges under me and can’t fire any of them. Sloppy briefs, shoddy work habits, poor attendance, padded expense accounts... there’s nothing I can do about it. Not only that, two of the eight did better than me on the LSAT and are openly wondering why they got passed over for the big job. Apparently, employees here get really mad when promotions aren’t made from within.

Note #1: Miranda Rights will have to wait. Smoothing over staff resentment is job one.

On my second day, in an effort to promote team spirit, I called a meeting of the justices in the conference room and suggested we all go back to wearing powdered wigs. After a full twenty seconds of deliberation, the suggestion was put it to a vote. Justice Kennedy, writing for the majority, declared the idea “an new zenith in judicial idiocy.”

Note #2: Don’t try to change things too fast.

The phrase “lonely at the top” was sunk in fast. To make matters worse, I’m really bad with names. The first few days at work, I got by with my killer smile and handles like, “Yes, you in the black robe, second from the end.” But I let down a moment and accidently referred to Justice Ginsburg as “Greta Van Susteran.” Justices Scalia and Thomas snickered.

Note #3: Those two snicker a lot.

I so wanted to get off to a fast start in this job. Heck, I filled out a requisition form for legal pads before I was even confirmed. I was ready. But the bureaucracy was having none of it. On Thursday, I was still jotting down all my notes on a Focus on the Family pad. Finally, I asked the office manager what the hold up was about regarding my stationery. A wizened old gentleman, he gave me a pitying look that seemed to say, Dear Jurisprudence, open up your eyes.

Then sat me down and told me the story of how a mix-up on parking stickers left Harry Blackmun searching for a spot on the street everyday for half his term. “If Justice Blackmun didn’t have to go out and feed the meter every two hours,” he said, “the death penalty would still be illegal.”

Note 4: Office manager could be a valuable ally.

Boy, what an education this is turning out to be. I guess I got a little cocky after those confirmation hearings. Gently hitting lobs over the heads of those kvetching senators on National TV, deftly sidestepping the facts... that was good fun. Since then, the only pleasure I get is closing my door and screaming, “Yippee. I’m Chief Justice!”

It is a good job title. I mean, I really love it when people ask me what I do for a living.
But as I start getting over myself, I’m getting hair balls of doubt, like “Maybe I should have turned this job down.”

I know that sounds nuts but, when you think about it, no one has ever turned down a job of Supreme Court and can you imagine how many resumes they must get? I could’ve made history. Now I have to sit here interpreting the constitution over and over... what kind of life is that for an attorney?

Note #5: If I quit now, I bet head hunters would be allover me.