John Roberts comes face to face with the mess he made

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Official portrait of U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts.

There is justice in John Roberts being forced to preside silently over the impeachment trial of President Trump, hour after hour, day after tedious day.

The chief justice of the United States, as presiding officer, doesn’t speak often, and when he does the words are usually scripted and perfunctory:

“The Senate will convene as a court of impeachment.”

“The chaplain will lead us in prayer.”

“The sergeant at arms will deliver the proclamation.”

“The majority leader is recognized.”

FILE – In this Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020, file image from video, presiding officer Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts swears in members of the Senate for the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. Reporters at the Capitol want more cameras in the Senate to cover the impeachment trial and fewer restrictions to talk to senators when they are not sitting in judgment of the president. (Senate Television via AP, File)

Otherwise, he sits and watches. He rests his chin in his hand. He stares straight ahead. He sits back and interlocks his fingers. He plays with his pen. He takes his reading glasses off and puts them on again. He starts to write something, then puts his pen back down. He roots around in his briefcase for something — anything? — to occupy him.

Roberts’s captivity is entirely fitting: He is forced to witness, with his own eyes, the mess he and his colleagues on the Supreme Court have made of the U.S. political system. As representatives of all three branches of government attend this unhappy family reunion, the living consequences of the Roberts Court’s decisions, and their corrosive effect on democracy, are plain to see. The story continues in the WaPo Here: