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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke January 5, 2022

No, John Roberts didn’t criticize Supreme Court justices’ ‘inappropriate political influence’

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  • John Roberts was pleading for judicial independence in his year-end report on the federal judiciary, not going after Supreme Court justices for their "inappropriate political influence." 

The headline of a recent blog post suggests that Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts is attacking his colleagues on the court.

"BUSTED: Chief Justice John Roberts goes after the highest court in the land, citing their ‘inappropriate political influence,’" the Jan. 3 headline says

But in reality, Roberts was making a plea to protect the court from political influence. The blog post says as much, but its headline, which was viewed tens of thousands of times on social media, doesn’t make that clear.

This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

Roberts issued his annual year-end report on the federal judiciary on Dec. 31. On the first of the nine page report, he quotes former President William Taft, who was appointed to the court by then-President Warren Harding in 1921. 

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"During his nine-year tenure, he proved visionary on a matter of vital concern to the entire judiciary: safeguarding and fortifying the independence of the branch," Roberts said. "Taft knew that no one seriously questioned that judges ‘should be independent in their judgements.’ Decisional independence is essential to due process, promoting impartial decision-making, free from political or other extraneous influence. But Taft recognized that courts also require ample institutional independence. The judiciary’s power to manage its internal affairs insulate courts from inappropriate political influence and is crucial to preserving public trust in its work as a separate and co-equal branch of government." (Emphasis ours.) 

Nowhere in the report does Roberts criticize the Supreme Court for "inappropriate political influence."

Rather, Roberts — after raising issues such as financial disclosure and recusal obligations among federal judges, workplace conduct, and patent cases — discussed the need for the federal judiciary to manage its own internal affairs. 

We rate this post False. 


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No, John Roberts didn’t criticize Supreme Court justices’ ‘inappropriate political influence’

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