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Chief Justice John Roberts in 2017. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts warned that Americans may "take democracy for granted" in his annual year-end message published Tuesday.

"[W]e have come to take democracy for granted, and civic education has fallen by the wayside. 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."

Why it matters: The statement about the power of online misinformation, coupled with Roberts' assertion of the federal judiciary's independence throughout the message, reads as a mission statement ahead of President Trump's Senate impeachment trial — over which the chief justice will preside.

  • "We should reflect on our duty to judge without fear or favor, deciding each matter with humility, integrity, and dispatch."
  • "As the New Year begins, and we turn to the tasks before us, we should each resolve to do our best to maintain the public’s trust that we are faithfully discharging our solemn obligation to equal justice under law.”

Flashback: Roberts and Trump disagreed about the independence of the federal judiciary back in 2018 after the president criticized judges who ruled against his administration, calling them "Obama judges."

Go deeper:

Go deeper

3 mins ago - Health

A safe, sane survival guide

Photo: Luka Dakskobler/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

We all know, it’s getting worse.

Reality check: Here are a few things every one of us can do to stay safe and sane in coming months:

Biden’s nightmare debut

President-elect Biden speaks in Wilmington on Nov. 24. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

A dim, gloomy scene seems increasingly set for Joe Biden's debut as president.

The state of play: He'll address — virtually — a virus-weary nation, with record-high daily coronavirus deaths, a flu season near its peak, restaurants and small businesses shuttered by wintertime sickness and spread.

Using apps to prevent deadly police encounters

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Mobile phone apps are evolving in ways that can stop rather than simply document deadly police encounters with people of color — including notifying family and lawyers about potential violations in real time.

Why it matters: As states and cities face pressure to reform excessive force policies, apps that monitor police are becoming more interactive, gathering evidence against rogue officers as well as posting social media videos to shame the agencies.