The Washington Post declares, in the headline to a paper edition article, that Chief Justice Roberts “must navigate a highly divisive docket as 2020 campaign rages.” I didn’t realize it was the Chief Justice’s job to “navigate” a docket or to worry about political campaigns. I thought it was his job, along with that of his colleagues, to reach correct conclusions about the merits of each case on the Court’s docket.
In addition, the Chief Justice presides over oral arguments and the deliberations of the Justices. A certain amount of internal politicking comes with the territory, I assume, and it’s the Chief Justice’s responsibility to assign the writing of opinions when he is in the majority.
But navigating through politics external to the Court? I never thought so. Not in deciding cases.
However, the Post has concluded, not without some foundation, that this Chief Justice considers himself a navigator. Today’s article, by Robert Barnes, should be viewed as a warning to Roberts as to how he should navigate. Barnes is rather explicit:
The Supreme Court has a powerfully controversial docket for its term beginning Monday that will test Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.’s efforts to portray the institution as above the noisy and partisan battles of the moment.
Translation: Vote against the conservative position in at least some key cases or have your claim that the Court is above partisan politics exposed as incorrect, if not fraudulent.
The mainstream media has concluded that Roberts is susceptible to this kind of warning. Is he? We may have a pretty good idea when the Court’s term ends next June.