U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts has made a clear call for judicial independence.
In a year-end report, Roberts argued against significant congressional interference in the federal judiciary.
“Decisional independence is essential to due process, promoting impartial decision-making, free from political or other extraneous influence,” he wrote, according to Fox News.
“Crucial to preserving public trust”
As for various “internal affairs” concerns raised in recent months, Roberts concluded that the judiciary’s power to resolve them “insulates courts from inappropriate political influence and is crucial to preserving public trust in its work as a separate and co-equal branch of government.”
The chief justice did acknowledge some concerns, however, declaring: “Collectively, our ethics training programs need to be more rigorous.”
His remarks came on the 100th anniversary of the Judicial Conference, an internal administrative and policy-making body that he currently leads. They were also delivered amid mounting political criticism aimed at the court’s conservative majority.
As progressives called for a range of judicial reforms, including potentially adding seats to the Supreme Court, President Joe Biden last year established a commission tasked with considering the pros and cons of such proposals.
“Become like a politician”
Former President Donald Trump’s three additions to the nation’s highest court cemented its conservative majority, which has come under fire from the left as justices prepare to weigh in on hot-button issues like abortion and vaccine mandates.
Of course, Roberts and others on the bench insist that justices ultimately do not write opinions based on their personal ideologies.
Conservative Justice Clarence Thomas once shared his belief that “the media makes it sound as though you are just always going right to your personal preference” and “become like a politician” when considering cases from the Supreme Court bench.
“That’s a problem,” he concluded, according to Breitbart. “You’re going to jeopardize any faith in the legal institutions.”
Recent surveys indicate that public support of the Supreme Court has already suffered, with Monmouth University pollsters determining that 42% of Americans approve of its performance while 45% disapprove. That deficit might not sound like much compared to the unpopularity of other public institutions, it is worth noting that five years ago the court had a nearly 50% approval rating and disapproval from just 1 in 3 Americans.