A somber Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. this morning called on lawyers and spectators in the Court chamber to join in the national moment of silence to honor the victims of Saturday's shooting in Tucson, including Arizona Chief U.S. District Judge John Roll, whom Roberts called "a dedicated member of the federal judiciary."
The Court convened at 9:55 this morning, earlier than usual, so it could conduct routine business including admissions to the Court bar and still hear an hourlong oral argument before the 11 o'clock moment of silence called for yesterday by President Barack Obama. The timing worked just right, and the first argument ended moments before 11. With the lawyers from the first argument still seated at the desks before the bench, everyone in the Court fell silent for under a minute, followed by Roberts calling the second case.
Following is the text of the statement Roberts made when the Court opened its session:
"We are convening a few minutes early this morning in order that we may join the rest of the nation and participate in a moment of silence at 11:00, to honor the innocent victims of the tragedy in Tucson, Arizona. That senseless shooting on Saturday caused devastating injury to persons who all, in their own way, contribute to the strength of our nation. The victims include a dedicated member of the federal judiciary, Chief Judge John Roll of the District of Arizona. I speak for the members of this Court in extending our condolences to all the victims and their families. The Court will observe the moment of silence at 11:00, between our two arguments this morning, and I will, at that time, ask the bar and spectators to join us in observing that moment of silence."