Nine down, ninety-one to go

Chief Justice John Roberts worries me a bit. Not his political views, which are mostly but not absolutely conservative, or his judicial even-handedness — he’s influenced in his decisions by more than absolute neutral legal principles, but so are all other judges.

What worries me is his appearance. I noticed lately a certain what I’ll call “uncomfortableness” about him which shows up in photographs, especially pictures taken when he’s keenly aware of the camera. (It seems to vanish, this feature, in pictures taken when his attention and focus are somewhere else, or, ironically, when he’s hyper-aware, as when posing for a formal portrait.)

I’m not going to post pictures; it’s easy to grab four or five which make my point and ignore half a dozen others which contradict it. Rather, I’ll ask you to look closely next time you see a photograph of Roberts. There is often something between smugness and discomfort showing in his tight-lipped smile and the set of his jaw.

You’d think either he was embarrassed at being photographed, or he was afraid of being found out. Or he knows something big and isn’t going to tell you. And it seems to be getting more pronounced — or maybe I just didn’t see it as clearly when he was first appointed.

So what is it? Is he a bit camera-shy? Does he have a neurological tic which kicks in willy-nilly? Or is that just his natural smile?

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