Trump blames judges for 'bedlam and chaos' in escalating attack on courts

President blasts ninth circuit as he dismisses extraordinary rebuke from Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts

Mythili Sampathkumar
New York
Thursday 22 November 2018 18:39
Donald Trump calls 9th circuit 'thorn in our side' and 'a disgrace'

Donald Trump has renewed his attacks on judges and judgements that have gone against his administration after an extraordinary rebuke from Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.

Using Twitter and an impromptu press conference at his Mar-a-Lago resort, the president called for someone – either a group of judges or Congress – to step in and stop the "horrible decisions" being made by the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals.

The federal appeals court, which is based in San Francisco, has blocked a number of border and immigration orders from Mr Trump during his presidency. Mr Trump tweeted that "judges must not legislate security ...They nothing about it and are making our country unsafe." He said that such decisions would only lead to "bedlam, chaos, injury and death".

The latest outbursts from Mr Trump are part of a nearly week-long tirade after a ruling on Monday by District Court Judge Jon Tigar, who is not an appeals court judge, that halted the Trump administration's attempts to bar migrants who enter the country illegally from applying for asylum.

Mr Trump responded by calling that decision a disgrace and labelling Mr Tigar an "Obama judge". Mr Tigar had been appointed to his seat by Mr Trump's White House predecessor Barack Obama.

On Wednesday, Chief Justice Roberts issued an unprecedented public critique of the president's remarks, defending the independence of the judiciary.

“We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges," Mr Roberts said. "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.”

Donald Trump: immigrants to 'present themselves legally' at border or void asylum claim

The president confronted Mr Roberts in a tweet on Thursday: “Roberts can say what he wants, but the 9th Circuit is a complete & total disaster. It is out of control.”

Mr Trump continued on that theme in front of reporters at Mar-a-Lago, calling the court "a big thorn in our side" and said "judges or Congress need to do something to stop it".

After a Thanksgiving Day call with members of the military, Mr Trump told reporters that he liked and respected Chief Justice Roberts, but repeated his complaints about the ninth circuit, on which he said he had shone some light.

Earlier on Twitter, Mr Trump wrote that particular circuit had a "horrible reputation, is overturned more than any Circuit in the Country, 79%, & is used to get an almost guaranteed result". According to data, the ninth circuit is not the most overturned; that distinction belongs to the sixth circuit, based in Ohio.

In the past few weeks, president Trump has ordered several thousand US troops to the US-Mexico border in anticipation of a migrant caravan containing thousands of people – many of them fleeing violence in their home countries – that had been slowly making its way from Central America, through Mexico.

"Our great Law Enforcement professionals MUST BE ALLOWED TO DO THEIR JOB! If not there will be only bedlam, chaos, injury and death. We want the Constitution as written!," Mr Trump tweeted early on Thursday.

The caravan of refugees and migrants was a frequent topic for Mr Trump on the campaign trail ahead of the congressional midterm elections earlier this month. But Mr Trump had been relatively quiet on the subject until the latest spate.

The ninth circuit was the appeals court that ruled against Mr Trump's controversial travel ban in 2017, the initial version of which banned travellers from seven majority-Muslim countries.

The president also hit out at the district court earlier in the week, tweeting: “Every case that gets filed in the 9th Circuit, we get beaten. And then we end up having to go to the Supreme Court, like the travel ban, and we won.”

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He said it was a disgrace that the ninth circuit, seen as the more liberal of federal district courts, would routinely rule against the administration.

Mr Trump has a history of lashing out at judges over their decisions. In 2016, he referred to a judge who was presiding over a fraud lawsuit against Trump University as a Mexican as an insult.

He said US District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who was born and raised in Indiana, would be unable to rule fairly because of Trump’s proposal to build a wall along the US-Mexican border.

The president has just successfully placed conservative judge Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court after a controversial confirmation process during which Mr Kavanaugh was accused of sexual assault when a teenager. Justice Kavanaugh has denied the allegations.

Mr Kavanaugh’s confirmation followed Mr Trump placing another conservative judge – Neil Gorsuch – on the Court in 2017.

Given the fact that Mr Trump has solidified the Supreme Court’s conservative majority, several justices have spoken out about judicial independence and the danger of having the Court viewed merely as a political institution.

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