The U.S. has “come to take democracy for granted,” Chief Justice John Roberts said, urging his fellow judges to keep educating the public about the workings of the federal government and the Constitution.
Roberts, who is slated to oversee the Senate‘s impeachment trial of President Donald Trump in the coming weeks, used his year-end report Tuesday to laud the federal judiciary’s work on civic education, while issuing a thinly veiled warning about the fragility of American democracy in a fractious time.
“We have come to take democracy for granted, and civic education has fallen by the wayside,” Roberts wrote. “In our age, when social media can instantly spread rumor and false information on a grand scale, the public’s need to understand our government, and the protections it provides, is ever more vital.”
Roberts described a 1788 riot that incapacitated John Jay while he was working with Alexander Hamilton and James Madison on the Federalist Papers, a series of articles published to promote the ratification of the Constitution. Jay was hit in the head with a rock while trying to quell the riot, which was sparked by a rumor that medical students were dissecting the body of a recently deceased woman. Jay later became the first U.S. chief justice.
“It is sadly ironic that John Jay’s efforts to educate his fellow citizens about the framers’ plan of government fell victim to a rock thrown by a rioter motivated by a rumor,” Roberts wrote. [Continue reading…]