U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts drew a few laughs Tuesday while he spoke at Brigham Young University about the Constitution, the separation of powers and the proper role of the judiciary:
• "Even on a serious occasion such as this I think most people expect me to begin with a lawyer joke. But I no longer tell lawyer jokes, particularly to mixed gatherings such as this. Turns out the lawyers don't think they're funny, and the nonlawyers don't think they're jokes."
• "One comparison is that in the 220 years since our Constitution was promulgated, the French have had 10 constitutions. The story is told that a visitor in Paris went to a bookstore in Paris and asked for a copy of the (French) Constitution. The proprietor replied that his store didn't carry periodicals."
• Roberts once lost a Supreme Court case to the late Rex Lee, who was the president of BYU and Roberts' friend and mentor. The vote was 9-0. Roberts called his client to advise of the drubbing. "9-0? 9-0?" the client said. "Why did we lose 9-0?" Said Roberts, "Well, because there are only nine justices."
• "It is an awfully tough thing being a judge. If a case is under consideration, we can't talk about it. And once it's decided, it speaks for itself, so we can't talk about it. So we don't have much to talk about."