Normally, the annual report from the nation's chief justice doesn't receive much attention. But John Roberts' relatively short missive released on New Year's Day has set off, if not a firestorm, then at least a conflagration of response. And it's all over the map.
Roberts, who last year devoted his report to the treatment of law clerks, focused this year on the role the court plays in promoting civic education. He argues that "we have come to take democracy for granted, and civic education has fallen by the wayside."
To which many liberal commentators have shouted: "Hypocrite!" Others see a no-so-subtle brushback pitch aimed at President Trump.
Michigan won't have to redraw its gerrymandered congressional and state district maps, as a federal court had required in an April ruling.
The Supreme Court on Monday overturned the ruling in a one-sentence order, which was expected in light of the justice's 5-4 decision in June that prohibited federal courts from hearing cases challenging legislative boundaries on the grounds they were drawn to favor one political party over another, a practice known as partisan gerrymandering.
In Michigan's case, the Republicans had drawn the districts to cement their hold on the state and congressional districts.
For those who view the restoration of cross-partisan friendships as genuinely key to making democracy work better, there was a glimmer of hope at the very end of the latest presidential debate.
Each of the Democratic candidates was asked Tuesday night to speak about a friendship that would be a surprise, and nine of the dozen talked exclusively about bonding with Republicans.
The downside, however, is that only two of them mentioned Senate GOP colleagues who will still be in public life after the next election.
Kamala Harris gave a shout-out to Rand Paul of Kentucky, her partner on legislation to reduce excessive bail for criminal defendants. And Cory Booker singled out a fresh companionship with Ted Cruz of Texas while talking up the benefits of his efforts to have dinner with every Republican senator, also mentioning attending Bible study and working on legislation to improve foster care with Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma.
Time and again, congressional veterans and students of the Capitol Hill culture volunteer that the slide into legislative gridlock, punctuated by polarizing rhetoric, has accelerated thanks to the steep decline in such bipartisan bonding — borne of a combination of tribal-style demands for partisan loyalty and scheduling pressures that stress fundraising far more than connecting with colleagues.
A website launched Monday gives the public access to the government's own searchable, user-friendly annotated version of the Constitution.
The site is the work of the Library of Congress and fulfills a longtime desire of lawmakers, open government advocates and proponents of better civic education. It's launch comes on the eve of the 232nd anniversary of the day the Constitution's drafters signed their work and sent it to the states for ratification.
The resource is known as "Constitution Annotated" because each section is accompanied by both "Plain English" commentary explaining relevant Supreme Court rulings and footnotes for further readings that provide modern context.
The new, public site is similar to that which the Library of Congress has long made available to members of Congress and staff.