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In his annual report on the state of the federal judiciary, Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. today called on the “political branches” — the President and Congress — to find a long-term solution to the “persistent problem” of filling judicial vacancies.

“Each political party has found it easy to turn on a dime from decrying to defending the blocking of judicial nominations, depending on their changing political fortunes,” Roberts wrote in the report, released to the public at 6 p.m. Since Republicans are the ones doing the defending and the blocking in the current Senate, the comment puts the conservative Roberts in unusual alignment with Senate Democrats who have criticized Republicans for impeding confirmations.

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