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Chief Justice John Roberts says he is concerned that partisan political battles over Supreme Court nominations have led to a widespread misunderstanding about the role of the court.

Roberts told an audience at New England Law School in Boston late Wednesday that the heated confirmation process — along with misleading attacks on the court's opinions — lea the public to believe the court is just as politically motivated as other branches of government.

"When you have a sharply political divisive hearing process, it increases the danger that whoever comes out of it will be viewed in those terms," he said, according to a video of his remarks provided by the school.

"If the Democrats and Republicans have been fighting so fiercely about whether you're going to be confirmed, it's natural for some member of the public to think, 'Well you must be identified in a particular way as a result of that process,'" he said.

Roberts, now in his 11th year on the court, said criticism of the court doesn't bother him, but he said much of it seems to be based on a perception that the justices are influenced by politics.

"If we uphold a particular political decision, that remains the decision of the political branches, and the fact that it may lead to criticism of us is often a mistake," he said. "We do have to be above or apart from the criticism because we, of course, make unpopular decisions — very unpopular decisions."


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