Yeomans Work: Trump and Roberts Swing and Miss

Press Release


WASHINGTON, D.C., November 30, 2018 – In the latest edition of Yeomans Work, AFJ Senior Justice Fellow Bill Yeomans writes that both President Trump and Chief Justice John Roberts were off-base with their latest comments about the politicization of the judiciary – but for different reasons.

Writes Yeomans: “Immediately before Thanksgiving, President Trump issued one of his embarrassingly ill-informed and predictable blasts at the judiciary. That was not news until Chief Justice John Roberts responded unexpectedly after holding his tongue through Trump’s repeated attacks on individual federal judges and courts. Trump’s statement reflected astonishing ignorance about the operation of the judiciary. Roberts, who, unlike Trump, surely knows what he is doing, issued a misleading and self-serving deflection.”

At issue: Trump’s complaint that a federal judge who blocked his attempt to deny asylum to migrants was an “Obama judge.” Roberts parried that there were no “Obama judges,” or Clinton, Bush or Trump judges. Why? Yeomans notes that Roberts “is genuinely concerned about the public perception of the court, particularly following Brett Kavanaugh’s overtly partisan confirmation rant. He wants the court to have legitimacy when it starts pumping out 5-4 decisions…His statement, therefore, is designed to speak more to the public than to Trump.”
As for Trump, he “is correct in that there are Trump judges. He simply takes it one step too far by demanding unwavering personal loyalty.” Meanwhile, both he and Roberts would be better off avoiding a public spat over the issue.

Yeomans Work focuses on the challenges to the justice system in the era of Trump. Bill Yeomans is available for media interviews. Contact Laurie Kinney, Communications Director, at laurie@afj.org or 202-464-7367.