As false information and rumor spread instantly online, John Roberts said, it's even more important that Americans understand how their government works. But civics education has "fallen by the wayside," the chief justice said in his annual report on the federal judiciary, and Americans "have come to take democracy for granted." Roberts said judges are helping to fill that gap, Reuters reports, citing Merrick Garland's tutoring at an elementary school. Garland is the judge whose Supreme Court nomination by President Barack Obama was blocked by Senate Republicans.
Roberts did not mention permitting televising or streaming audio of the Supreme Court's oral arguments, per the Washington Post, which many have advocated as a way to show government's workings. He did give as an example the court's landmark desegregation ruling in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. "Chief Justice Earl Warren illustrated the power of a judicial decision as a teaching tool," Roberts wrote. Warren's ruling, he said, was "a mere 11 pages—short enough that newspapers could publish all or almost all of it and every citizen could understand the court's rationale." (Read more John Roberts stories.)