Trump keeps spat alive with federal judiciary

Mark Sherman
Associated Press

Washington – Incensed by a ruling against his migrant asylum policy, President Donald Trump on Thursday demanded “some common sense” from America’s judges and directed his ire at a liberal-leaning appeals court. He professed respect for Chief Justice John Roberts, with whom he is engaged in a startling public dispute over the independence of the judiciary, yet shrugged off the Republican appointee as someone who “can say what he wants.”

Trump, still seething over Monday’s decision by a President Barack Obama-nominated judge, began his Thanksgiving Day by asserting on Twitter that courts should defer to his administration and law enforcement on border security because judges “know nothing about it and are making our Country unsafe.”

The president, spending the holiday in Florida, later told reporters that law enforcers and military service members he has sent to the U.S.-Mexico border “can’t believe the decisions that are being made by these judges.”

Trump has gone after federal judges before who have ruled against him, but the current dustup is the first time that Roberts, the leader of the federal judiciary, has offered even a hint of criticism of the president.

Roberts issued a strongly worded statement Wednesday defending judicial independence and contradicting Trump’s claim that judges are partisans allied with the party of the president who nominated them.

It is highly unusual for a president to single out judges for personal criticism, and a chief justice’s challenge to a president’s comments is unprecedented in modern times.

In challenging a co-equal branch of government, Trump complains that his opponents file lawsuits in courts that are part of the liberal-leaning 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. That’s where an appeal of the recent asylum ruling would normally go.

It’s not unusual for those challenging a president’s policies to sue in courts they consider likely to back their claims.

“Everybody files in the 9th Circuit,” he said with exaggeration. “I think we’re going to have stop that somehow. The judges are going to have to get together or Congress is going to have to get together and stop it because they’re taking advantage of our country.” Trump did not elaborate.

Conservative groups tended to bring challenges to Obama-era policies in Texas, part of the conservative-leaning 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

“I like him and I respect him,” Trump said about Roberts, “but i think we have to use some common sense. The 9th Circuit, everybody knows that it’s totally out of control.”

Trump began the holiday by tweeting that Roberts “can say what he wants, but the 9th Circuit is a complete & total disaster.”