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End the duopoly

The Political Genius of John Roberts

Pool/Getty Images There will be much discussion in the coming weeks about the revelations of the Supreme Court’s COVID term. But perhaps more than anything, we should focus on the battle of the titans that has played out this year between Chief Justice Roberts and President Donald Trump. It certainly has been a years-in-the-making enterprise: Roberts was showing signs of Trump fatigue by the end of last term, and his frustration with the Trump administration’s shoddy lawyering and outright fabrication was evident by the time he thwarted the administration’s effort to put a citizenship question on the census. It’s fair to say that, by this time last year , it was clear that Roberts, a lifelong conservative, was—unlike many other lifelong conservatives—not prepared to give up on every institutional and ideological principle he’d ever held in order to cater to Trump’s tempestuous whims. It was also clear that Roberts would prioritize public respect for the Supreme Court and the federal judiciary over short-term gains for the president and his party.

This was evident not just in his judicial writing. It was clear when he punched back at Trump’s claims that there were “Trump judges and Obama judges” and again when […]

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