By Ellena Erskine
Sep 6, 2022
at 5:48 p.m.
Jeffrey Minear speaking to law students in 2013. (Wake Forest University School of Law via Flickr)
Jeffrey Minear, adviser to Chief Justice John Roberts since 2006, will retire at the end of the month, the court announced Tuesday.
Much like a chief of staff, the adviser to the chief justice holds a loosely defined position with broad responsibilities, including assisting the chief in overseeing the United States Judicial Conference and serving as the chief’s representative to other branches of government, foreign courts and visiting dignitaries. Minear also managed the Court’s budget and worked to revitalize the Supreme Court Scholars Program. Outside of court, he served as Roberts’ representative as Chancellor of the Smithsonian Institution.
Minear began his career as a chemical engineer for the Union Carbide Corporation in Texas. After two years, drawn to environmental law by his love of camping and fishing, Minear left Texas for law school at the University of Michigan. He then became clerk to Judge Monroe G. McKay of the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit before taking a job with the Department of Justice.
Before coming to court, Minear served 21 years in the office of the United States Solicitor General. He has argued 56 cases in court, specializing in environmental law, Native American issues, and matters within the court’s original jurisdiction.
Minear and Roberts first met in the 1980s, often representing opposing sides in the courtroom. In the late 1990s, they joined a government anti-trust lawsuit against Microsoft.
In a 2017 speech, Roberts explained that the two really got to know each other when, on opposite sides of what would become Alaska v. United States, they were sent on a study trip on a fishing boat to Glacier Bay. “You really get to know someone when you’re up close on a fishing vessel for a week,” Roberts said. Roberts soon left the case to join the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and then the Supreme Court. After a year on the bench, he hired Minear to replace Sally Rider as an adviser.