Crit­ics: Par­don is latest af­front against ju­di­ciary

Houston Chronicle Sunday - - POLITICS - By Dar­lene Su­perville

WASH­ING­TON — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s par­don of former Ari­zona sher­iff Joe Ar­paio shows a lack of re­gard for an in­de­pen­dent ju­di­ciary, say crit­ics who note Trump’s past crit­i­cism of fed­eral judges. Sup­port­ers counter that the vet­eran law en­force­ment of­fi­cer de­served Amer­ica’s grat­i­tude, “not the in­jus­tice of a po­lit­i­cal witch hunt.”

Re­ac­tion was sharp and swift, in­clud­ing among some fel­low Repub­li­cans with whom Trump has been feud­ing openly.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., sig­naled his dis­agree­ment through his spokesman. “Law-en­force­ment of­fi­cials have a spe­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity to re­spect the rights of ev­ery­one in the United States,” Ryan spokesman Doug An­dres said in a state­ment. “We should not al­low any­one to be­lieve that re­spon­si­bil­ity is di­min­ished by this par­don.”

Repub­li­can Sen. John McCain of Ari­zona, who in­curred Trump’s wrath af­ter vot­ing against a Repub­li­can health care bill, said: “The pres­i­dent has the author­ity to make this par­don, but do­ing so at this time un­der­mines his claim for the re­spect of rule of law as Mr. Ar­paio has shown no re­morse for his ac­tions.”

Trump has rooted openly for Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., who said, “Amer­ica owes Sher­iff Ar­paio a debt of grat­i­tude and not the in­jus­tice of a po­lit­i­cal witch hunt.”

Jens David Oh­lin, vice dean and pro­fes­sor at Cor­nell Law School, said he was dis­turbed by the par­don.

“Ever since the cam­paign and the be­gin­ning of his ad­min­is­tra­tion he’s had a very con­tentious re­la­tion­ship with the ju­di­ciary and hasn’t shown much re­spect for ei­ther mem­bers of the ju­di­ciary or the proper role of the ju­di­ciary within our con­sti­tu­tional struc­ture,” Oh­lin said. Dur­ing the cam­paign, Trump called Chief Jus­tice John Roberts “an ab­so­lute disas­ter” and “disgraceful,” for two opin­ions that left Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s health care law in­tact. Trump also went af­ter U.S. District Judge Gon­zalo Curiel, who presided over fraud law­suits against Trump Uni­ver­sity. Trump said Curiel couldn’t be fair to Trump be­cause of Curiel’s “Mex­i­can her­itage.”

Trump also re­ferred to U.S. District Judge James Ro­bart as a “so-called judge” af­ter Ro­bart im­posed a tem­po­rary halt on Trump’s travel ban.

AFP / Getty Im­ages file



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