A “strong and independent” judiciary plays a central role in civic education and in promoting “national unity and stability,” Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. asserted in an annual year-end report that arrives as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to confront the secrecy of President Donald Trump’s tax returns and as Roberts is expected soon to preside over the president’s impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate.

“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 said in his report. He urged federal judges “to continue their efforts to promote public confidence in the judiciary, both through their rulings and through civic outreach.”

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