With his movie-star good looks, Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts could play a lawyer arguing before the highest court in the land. Instead, he did it for real, leaving the acting to his celebrity sister Julia. But could Julia's history of advocating for women and the poor on the silver screen come back to haunt the conservative nominee? The Swift Report has the inside scoop.
Will Senators ask Roberts about his thespian sister?
NEW YORK—With his movie-star good lucks, Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts could play a lawyer arguing before the highest court in the land (think Pat Sajak vs. affirmative action). Instead, Judge Roberts did it for real, leaving the acting to his celebrity sister Julia. But could Julia's on-screen legal advocacy in "Erin Brokovich" and her support for prostitution ("Pretty Woman") and adultery ("Closer") imperil the Judge's nomination? Here's a look.
Legal eagles—and a conservative plot
While her much older brother earned plaudits as a law student at Harvard (he graduated magna cum laude!), Julia Roberts would also go to law school—in the hit 1993 film "The Pelican Brief." Roberts plays Darby Shaw, an aspiring lawyer with a weakness for constitutional law who is every bit as smart and talented as Roberts' real-life brother. And the parallels don't stop there.
While big bro has since gotten the nod from President George W. Bush, who seeks to put a conservative stamp on the Supreme Court, Julia has been there and done that too. Her character in "The Pelican Brief" investigates the baffling assassinations of two Supreme Court justices and figures out what no one else seems to realize: the justices had to go so that the conservative president could appoint new, conservative justices who will side with a pelican-hating industrialist in a controversial case.
"The Arroyo Frog Brief"?
Sources close to the Supreme Court nominee Roberts says that he likes pelicans, but isn't so crazy about frogs—especially those that live on the West Coast. In a now infamous 2003 decision, Judge Roberts disparaged the Arroyo Toad for living "its entire life in California," a ruling that his celeb sis took especially hard, given her own California roots.
Erin Brokovich, class warrior
Unfortunately for fans of Judge Roberts, little sister's ventures into the legal profession were only just beginning. Next up: her Academy Award winning performance in 2000 as Erin Brockovich, a working-class warrior who "brought a small town to its feet and a huge corporation to its knees." While the film, with its story of a sassy, sexy gal who almost single handedly brings down a pollution-loving California power company, won raves from Democrats and the Hollywood elite, conservatives were quick to distance themselves from its anti-corporate message.
"Obviously this is not something that Judge Roberts wants to be associated with," says a friend of the Supreme Court nominee. "He doesn't agree with the message of 'Erin Brockovich,' he didn't see the film when it came out and he and Julia basically agreed to disagree on this one."
For mature audiences only
But connoisseurs of the ultra-competitive Supreme Court nomination process warn that it's not just Julia's onscreen roles as a champion of liberals and the poor that could get her older brother in trouble. Will pro-family advocates of Judge Roberts, including Tony Perkins, the super-handsome head of the Family Research Council, be willing to overlook that the nominee's sister played a prostitute in "Pretty Woman"? Or how about her recent role as a philandering photographer in "Closer," a film so raunchy and debased that it received an "extremely offensive" review from one Christian movie reviewer?
With the confirmation process likely to begin in late August, Senators are already gearing up for a tough back-and-forth with the proposed nominee. And sources close to that chamber say that nothing is off the table—not even questions about Judge Roberts' celebrity sister's movies.
Would you like to see Judge Roberts and Julia Roberts do a film together? Talk back to Russell D'Arby