Chief Justice John Roberts doesn't do much public speaking, so it was a treat for the University of Idaho to land him for a speech and a chance to answer a few questions at the College of Law's Bellwood Lecture Series.
But the first question may be a good example of why members of the Supreme Court don't go out much on the speaking circuit.
Roberts gave his speech on why law students and lawyers might want to emulate Abraham Lincoln's career as a lawyer, and was ready to field a few questions. See story reprinted below, or click here.) The moderator reiterated that Roberts couldn't talk about pending cases or his opinions on past decisions, and asked that the questions be limited to folks from U of I, since this was, after all, a university sponsored event. And ask a question, don't make a speech, he added.
The first person managed to go 0 for 3, saying that she was a lawyer who left Southern California at 3 a.m., begged the crowd's indulgence and launched into a discussion of "illegal activities going on in the Supreme Court of the United States" surrounding a petition she was trying to file to get the court to look at...
...whether or not Barack Obama is an American citizen.
The woman was Orly Taitz, who has filed a lawsuits that first tried to keep Obama from taking office and now wants to have him ousted as not eligible for the job under the Constitutional provision that requires a president be a native born citizen.
She said she brought the case of Lightfoot v. Bowen to Roberts, but his clerk allegedly hid the supplemental brief and the case was erased from the docket.
"I have here pages of citizens, half a million citizens have signed petitions to you personally and each and every justice, demanding that you hear my case, Lightfoot v. Bowen, that stated th at Barack Hussein Obama, aka Barry Soetoro, is thorougly illegitimate for president, due to the fact that he is a foreign national at birth," Taitz said.
Some in the crowd chuckled, others groaned and Taitz paused long enough for Roberts to break in, thank her for coming and tell her he'd look at any documents she'd like to leave, but he couldn't comment on any cases or petitions. The moderator broke in to say she could leave her papers with the security guards, who closed in from front and back, and walked her out of the room.
On some Web sites, this is being portrayed as a great coup for Taitz, delivering her petitions and getting a promise from Roberts to look at them. To people who were there, it may have seemed more like a kind way to cut her off and move on with the event.
But don't take our word for it. Listen to the exchange at the top of this post and form your own opinion