|Chief Justice John Roberts.|
Since entering the White House - thanks to Electoral College electors failing to protect the nation as envisioned by the Founders - Donald Trump has proceeded to undermine and destroy public confidence in America's core institutions, including but not limited to the federal court system. No doubt Vladimir Putin is smiling broadly as he watches from afar and sees Trump trying to replicate Putin's dictatorial rule in Russia. Typically, the Supreme Court remains aloof from political disputes - although this may change given Trump's placement of rank partisans Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh on the Court - but this week Chief Justice John Roberts found he could no longer bite his tongue and issued a rebuke to Der Trumpenführer's attacks on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that sounded like it came from Hitler or Putin's playbook of how to emasculate the judiciary and turn it into a tool of autocracy. A piece in NPR looks st this rare but much needed rebuke of the foul individual at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Here are highlights:
In a rare moment of direct criticism, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts rebuked
PresidentTrump on Wednesday for [Trump's] the president'sdescription of a federal judge who ruled against his asylum policy as "an Obama judge." Within hours, the president fired back on Twitter, launching an unusual conflict between the executive and judicial branches.
"We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges," Roberts said in a statement. "What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them."
"That independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for," Roberts said. Roberts has never responded to any president so directly and publicly before.
Trump's initial response was to a ruling by U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar, who issued a temporary restraining order against Trump's asylum policy Monday, saying it violated a provision of the asylum law. Trump called the decision a "disgrace," adding, "this was an Obama judge and I'll tell you what, it's not going to happen like this anymore."
Trump went on to excoriate the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals which he wrongly blamed for the ruling, saying, "Every case that gets filed in the Ninth Circuit, we get beaten. And then we end up having to go to the Supreme Court, like the travel ban, and we won," Trump said.
However, Tigar is a district court judge who sits in San Francisco, and the Ninth Circuit, which encompasses much of the western United States, has not yet been asked to rule on his decision. Tigar's decision is also temporary, lasting only until Dec. 19 when the judge is scheduled to hear arguments about whether the order should remain permanent.
This is not the first time Trump has criticized a judge. During the presidential campaign, he called one judge with a Spanish surname who ruled against him a Mexican, alleging he couldn't rule fairly because of Trump's proposal to build a wall along with border with Mexico and called another who ruled against his travel ban "a so-called judge."
The American Bar Association joined in the criticism of Trump's comments.
"Disagreeing with a court's decision is everyone's right, but when government officials question a court's motives, mock its legitimacy or threaten retaliation due to an unfavorable ruling, they intend to erode the court's standing and hinder the courts from performing their constitutional duties," said ABA president Bob Carlson.The Post also noted the rare rebuke to the man seeking to destroy the independent judiciary:
[I]t appeared Roberts, when asked to comment by the Associated Press, was eager to counter Trump’s criticism Tuesday of District Judge Jon S. Tigar. The Roberts statement did not mention the president by name.The chief justice is an aggressive defender of the judiciary and has frequently expressed concern about attacks on its impartiality, whether they come from the left or the right. In 2010, he called the timing of President Barack Obama’s criticism of the court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC during the president’s State of the Union speech “very troubling.”
Roberts made it clear last month that he is particularly sensitive about the image of the courts because of the recent partisan battle over the confirmation of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh.
At an event at the University of Minnesota just after Kavanaugh’s confirmation, Roberts said the court served “one nation” and not “one party or one interest.”
“Our role is very clear: We are to interpret the Constitution and laws of the United States, and to ensure that the political branches act within them,” he said. “That job obviously requires independence from the political branches. The story of the Supreme Court would be very different without that sort of independence.”