‘It would be great if the 9th Circuit was indeed an “independent judiciary…”‘
(Chris Sommerfeldt, New York Daily News) With Thanksgiving just hours away, President Donald Trump traded jabs with Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts on Wednesday over the political motivations behind a San Francisco judge’s court ruling against the president.
In his first-ever rebuke of Trump, the Republican-appointed Roberts laid into the president over denigrating U.S. District Court Judge Jon Tigar as an “Obama judge” because he blocked his recent executive order on asylum.
“We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges,” Roberts, who was nominated to the bench by President George W. Bush in 2005, said in the extremely unusual statement. “What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them.”
Referencing the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend, Roberts added, “That independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for.”
Trump responded by reiterating his assertion that the ruling was politically motivated and urging the nation’s highest-ranking jurist to “study” the issue more closely.
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. It would be great if the 9th Circuit was indeed an “independent judiciary,” but if it is why……
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 21, 2018
“Please study the numbers, they are shocking,” he wrote in a follow-up tweet. “We need protection and security—these rulings are making our country unsafe! Very dangerous and unwise!”
Tigar, a San Francisco judge who was appointed to the U.S. District Court by President Barack Obama, drew Trump’s ire after he ruled late Monday that the administration cannot refuse asylum to migrants who enter the country in between legal points of entry.
Citing U.S. statutes that explicitly affirm migrants can claim asylum regardless of their immigration status or how they entered the country, Tigar said Trump’s Nov. 8 executive order on the matter attempted to “impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden.” His ruling blocks Trump’s action until Dec. 19, when the court will consider arguments for a permanent injunction.
Trump responded by venting to reporters that Tigar’s court rules against “every case” his administration files, noting that the first rendition of his self-proclaimed “Muslim ban” fell to the same fate.
“This was an Obama judge. And I’ll tell you what, it’s not going to happen like this anymore,” Trump said.
It was unclear what Trump meant when he said things will change.
Neal Katyal, a Supreme Court litigator and Obama-era solicitor general, said it was Trump, and not the activist judges on the court who was attempting to politicize the federal judiciary.
“Trump’s goal is not to make a point about the Ninth Circuit. It is to delegitimize the courts—and the Chief Justice—because they, like the media and like DOJ, are an institution that serves as a check and balance against his impulsivity and reckless disregard for the rule of law,” Katyal tweeted.
The New York Times reported Tuesday that Trump earlier this year wanted to pressure the Justice Department into prosecuting Hillary Clinton and former FBI Director James Comey. He reportedly only backed down after his legal team advised him that such blatant requests to prosecute political enemies could result in his impeachment.
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