Chief Justice Roberts tells students he hopes they will experience challenges rather than success

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Judiciary

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. departed from standard graduation advice when he told middle school graduates last month that he wished them bad luck.

Roberts delivered the ninth-grade commencement address at the Cardigan Mountain School, an elite boarding school attended by his son, the Washington Post reports. The speech “was personal, understated and popular probably because it touched on universal themes,” the story says.

Roberts delivered eight opinions and two dissents this most recent term, but “none probably meant as much” as the speech, the Post says.

Roberts told the students it is better to experience challenges than success. Here is the excerpt:

“From time to time in the years to come, I hope you will be treated unfairly so that you will come to know the value of justice. I hope that you will suffer betrayal, because that will teach you the importance of loyalty. Sorry to say, but I hope you will be lonely from time to time, so that you don’t take friends for granted.

“I wish you bad luck—again, from time to time—so that you will be conscious of the role of chance in life, and understand that your success is not completely deserved, and that the failure of others is not completely deserved, either.

“And when you lose, as you will, from time to time, I hope every now and then your opponent will gloat over your failure as a way for you to understand the importance of sportsmanship. I hope you will be ignored, so you know the importance of listening to others. And I hope you will have just enough pain to learn compassion.”

Roberts told the students they were privileged to attend the school, but his advice is “don’t act like it.”

A Los Angeles Times article sees Roberts’ speech as a counterweight to President Donald Trump’s acerbic tweeting. “Without mentioning the president,” the article says, “Roberts extols virtues Trump conspicuously lacks.”

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