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Chief Justice John Roberts says accusations that the Supreme Court is too political are 'based on a misperception'

He has clashed with Trump over statements like this in the past

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts said Tuesday evening that the Supreme Court itself was not political and that any notion of partisanship by the justices was "based on a misperception."

What did he say?

On Tuesday, Roberts addressed a gathering of a few hundred people at Temple Emanu-El Streicker Center in Manhattan.

"We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges," Roberts said, according to ABC News. "What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them."

Roberts also said that the justices were not opposed to receiving criticism from either party. "It does not affect how we do our work. We will decide cases according to the Constitution and our laws, without fear or favor," Roberts said.

He said that there was a "misperception" that the justices were partisan, but that they did "not go about our work in a political manner."

Is there partisanship in the court?

On the Supreme Court, four of the nine justices (Breyer, Ginsburg, Kagan, and Sotomayor) were appointed by Democratic presidents and vote in favor of liberal positions much of the time. Another four (Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Thomas) were all appointed by Republican presidents and tend to vote for conservative positions.

Roberts himself was nominated by former President George W. Bush. He has been criticized by conservatives for crossing the aisle and voting with liberals on cases including National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius (which upheld Obamacare's individual mandate), or most recently in Department of Commerce v. New York (where the majority with Roberts effectively blocked President Donald from adding a citizenship question to the U.S. Census).

He has also been criticized by Democrats for not voting for liberal issues more often.

Roberts has said similar things in the past

Roberts made a similar statement in November, when he criticized President Donald Trump for calling a federal judge an "Obama judge. "

"We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges," Roberts said at the time. "What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them."

Trump shot back on Twitter "Sorry Chief Justice John Roberts, but you do indeed have "Obama judges," and they have a much different point of view than the people who are charged with the safety of our country."

Editor's note: A previous version of this story inaccurately said that Roberts voted with the majority on Obergefell v. Hodges. We apologize for the error.

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