The impeachment of President Trump will propel one branch of government into the spotlight, and it is not the Legislative or Executive Branches. The third branch of government will come out from behind the curtain into primetime in the hopes of squashing the partisanship engulfing U.S. Capitol.
Chief Justice John Roberts, who was nominated by George Bush, will become a household name in the new year by proceeding over the impeachment trial of President Trump. As Chief Justice, Roberts has transformed the nature of the Judiciary and will take all costs to protect it from the hyperpartisanship in D.C.
Chief Justice Roberts is likely to follow the Rehnquist model, according to Prof. Bowman. “He won’t want to get the institutional integrity of his own branch of government all tangled up with this highly partisan exercise,” Prof. Bowman says.
That may not be so easy in the age of social media. Within the Senate chamber and beyond, today’s political climate may exaggerate insubstantial moments and disguise consequential events as the trial unfolds.
President Trump has denigrated judges and courts that issued decisions he found objectionable, a practice that prompted a rare rebuke from Chief Justice Roberts himself last year. And although the president has treated the chief justice with respect during their personal encounters, as a candidate Mr. Trump labeled him “a disgrace” and an “absolute disaster” for his votes upholding portions of the Affordable Care Act.
“If the chief justice rules against the president on a particular issue, there are going to be people who object to what the chief justice has done, no matter how fair or appropriate that ruling might be,” says Kathryn Webb Bradley, a Duke University law professor who worked with Chief Justice Roberts when he was in private practice. “I would expect that it wouldn’t faze the chief justice at all.”