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Chief Justice Roberts Chides Solicitor General Verrilli

Per The New Jersey Law Journal:

"Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. scolded a Justice Department lawyer in open court Tuesday, accusing the solicitor general's office of being less than candid in a brief describing the government's change in position on an issue before the court.

"The rare episode seemed to be a deliberate effort by Roberts to send a message to the solicitor general's office that it may be giving too-short shrift to the tradition of continuity between administrations that the court is accustomed to seeing. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. was in the courtroom and saw the unusual exchange."

"During routine arguments in an ERISA health insurance case titled US Airways v. McCutchen, Roberts zeroed in on footnote 9 in the government's brief, which described a position taken in previous ERISA cases by Bush Administration Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao and then stated that "upon further reflection … the Secretary is now of [a different] view."

"Roberts said angrily, "That is not the reason. It wasn't further reflection. We have a new secretary under a new administration, right?" He was referring to Obama administration labor secretary Hilda Solis."

More after the jump...