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.
Trump launched the brouhaha by denouncing Judge Tigar of the Northern District of California, who blocked Trump’s order making asylum available only to refugees who present themselves at an official port of entry. Trump denounced Tigar as an “Obama judge” and launched into a rambling denunciation of the Ninth Circuit. It’s unclear whether he understood that Tigar is a district court judge and does not sit on the Ninth Circuit. Trump announced that he was “going to put in a major complaint because you cannot win — if you’re us — a case in the 9th Circuit and I think it’s a disgrace. This was an Obama judge. And I’ll tell you what, it’s not going to happen like this anymore.” Major complaint? Where? To whom? Does he think the federal judiciary has a complaint bureau? If only it did because I’d like to lodge a few complaints myself. Shelby County, Citizens United, Janus, Parents Involved. The list goes on.