Judge John Roberts would rather be anywhere other than the United States Senate, where he will have to preside over Donald Trump's political trial. In his 15 years in the Supreme Court, the image of impartial arbitrator has been forged and now all his work could be in danger.
Roberts, 64, is accustomed to the solemnity of the Supreme Court, where journalists take note with paper and pencil, cameras are prohibited and the only images that see the light are those of the cartoons.
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Now, he faces the Senate, a totally different institution in which partisan divisions reign and where legislators plan their interventions depending on the minutes they will achieve in the main television networks.
I JUST GOT IMPEACHED FOR MAKING A PERFECT PHONE CALL!
– Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 16, 2020
Under the spotlight, Roberts on Thursday assumed the Presidency of the Senate to then take the oath to each of the senators, who promised to administer "impartial justice" in the Trump trial, accused of having pressured Ukraine to to investigate former vice president Joe Biden.
At all times, dressed in a black robe, Roberts kept his composure and was very careful not to give clues about his political preferences. The judge would make a good poker player.
Obsessed by impartiality
Appointed as president of the Supreme Court by Republican George W. Bush (2001-2009), Roberts has always been airtight in his statements and has endeavored to show that the country's highest judicial body is composed of impartial judges and not politicians. with toga
"The judges are servants of the law, not the other way around. The judges are like arbitrators. The arbitrators do not make the rules, they apply them," he said in 2005 in the Senate during his confirmation process in office.
John Roberts, president of the Supreme Court of Justice and judge at the Donald Trump trial.
Due to his obsession with impartiality, Roberts will try to become invisible in Trump's trial and minimize his role as much as possible. He will avoid being dragged into political mud and, therefore, experts expect him to simply act as a master of ceremonies.
"Most likely, Roberts serves as a decorative figure," summarized Frank Bowman, a professor at the University of Missouri in an article on the Supreme Court's specialized blog.
Trump will be watching
Roberts is a judge who usually votes for conservative ideas, such as abortion restrictions or unlimited donation of money in political campaigns; but that does not make him anything favorable to Trump.
Judges are servants of the law, not vice versa
In fact, both made their preferences clear in November 2018. Then, the president criticized a judge in California who had blocked one of his measures and tried to discredit him by implying that his ruling was due to partisan reasons because he had been appointed by his predecessor, Barak Obama.
Capitol Headquarters in Washington, United States.
He is an "Obama judge," Trump then attacked. And, in response, Roberts hastened to defend the independence of all the country's courts. "We have no Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges. What we have is an extraordinary group of judges who do their best to guarantee the equal rights of those who appear before them. That judicial independence it's something we should be grateful for, "he said.
That statement from Roberts gained great media attention because rarely do Supreme Court judges position themselves on issues that have to do with politics.
His reputation is at stake
Due to all these circumstances, the reputation of an impartial arbitrator that has cost him so much to cultivate is at stake.
In his career, Roberts has received criticism from both progressives for his rulings against rights such as equal marriage and conservatives, who hold a grudge for having saved Obama's health reform in 2012, which Trump has tried to repeal without succeeding.
That decision unleashed, four years later, the anger of Trump, who considered that
Roberts had become a "nightmare for conservatives." "Judge
Roberts has turned out to be an absolute disaster, "said the president in an interview with ABC.
Roberts was somehow born to be a judge. Originally from Buffalo (New York), he studied law at one of the most prestigious institutions in the USA. UU., Harvard University, where he became the director of Harvard Law Review.
United States Supreme Court of Justice.
Erik S. Lesser / EFE
After graduating, he worked as an assistant for the former president of the Supreme, the late William Rehnquist. Rehnquist was the judge who oversaw the political trial in 1999 of Democratic President Bill Clinton, who was acquitted by the Senate.
"I did nothing in particular, I did very well," he boasted in a Rehnquist memoir, paraphrasing a text of the operetta "Iolanthe" by Gilbert and Sullivan. Two decades later, everything seems to indicate that Roberts will follow his teacher's example.