Thursday, May 11, 2006

The country has John G. Roberts Jr. as its newest chief justice. What it doesn't have is an answer to the mystery of the missing file of his work papers on affirmative action.

The file, compiled during Roberts's tenure as an associate counsel in the Reagan White House, vanished in July when lawyers from the Bush administration were reviewing the materials at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., as part of a vetting process before Roberts's formal nomination to the Supreme Court.

A newly released report from the National Archives inspector general's office shows that federal investigators failed in their first attempt to nail down what happened to the file, which became a flashpoint in Roberts's otherwise smooth confirmation process.