Chief Justice John Roberts in Washington in 2013. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Valerie Schultz works as a library technical assistant for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., I’m surprised at you. Didn’t your mother raise you better than to insult whole groups of people?
For those who are wondering, I’m talking about a remark the chief justice made last month during oral arguments in Bruce v. Samuels, a dispute about federal prisoners paying legal fees. Here I quote from Amy Howe of SCOTUSblog: When reminded that prisons maintain libraries, “Roberts then shot back, presumably sarcastically, ‘I’m sure they are very good libraries, too.’ ”
I run a library at a state prison for men in California, and I can attest that it is indeed a “very good library.” My library is tasked with assuring that inmates have access to the courts because, although they are convicted criminals, they retain certain civil and human rights. We provide them with access to legal forms, typewriters, law books and computers that can be used to research case law and the myriad rules of the courts, as well as a daily legal newspaper. We make available typing paper, numbered pleading paper and envelopes for filing court documents. We make the required number of copies of outgoing legal work. We weigh documents to determine the number of stamps needed for mailing. In short, we have everything that an inmate acting as his own lawyer needs to bring his concern to the attention of the appropriate court. Read article