By Joan Biskupic, CNN legal analyst & Supreme Court biographer
Updated 6:46 AM ET, Wed January 29, 2020
Washington (CNN) Since the Senate impeachment trial began last week, Chief Justice John Roberts has been mainly out of the camera’s line of sight. He has, clerk-like, enforced Senate procedures and kept the clock for the lawyers at the lectern. He has tried to maintain the chamber’s decorum, as when he admonished the legal teams against nastiness, citing a 1905 Senate trial precedent against use of the word “pettifogging.”
He has introduced some levity, as when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wished him happy birthday on Monday and the 65-year-old Roberts responded with: “Well, thank you very much for those kind wishes, and thank you to all the senators for not asking for the yeas and nays.”
Beginning Wednesday, Roberts will be less lighthearted and far more visible. He will be the voice of senators, with his visage at the center of the screen as he reads their questions. Roberts will pose questions that the senators write on forms to the US House managers and President Donald Trump’s lawyers.