Trump says 2 jus­tices should sit out cases, but they de­cide

Times-Herald (Vallejo) - - NEWS - By Mark Sher­man

WASHINGTON >> A month be­fore the Supreme Court takes up cases over his tax re­turns and fi­nan­cial records, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Tues­day made the un­usual sug­ges­tion that two lib­eral jus­tices should not take part in those or any other cases in­volv­ing him or his ad­min­is­tra­tion.

The re­marks crit­i­cal of Jus­tices Ruth Bader Gins­burg and So­nia So­tomayor, New York­ers like Trump, came dur­ing a news con­fer­ence in In­dia, where Trump was wrap­ping up a 36-hour visit full of praise and pageantry. They fol­lowed tweets in a sim­i­lar vein.

Jus­tices de­cide for them­selves when to step aside from cases the court is con­sid­er­ing, and it is highly un­likely ei­ther jus­tice would sit out cases in­volv­ing Trump, in­clud­ing two cases the court will hear on Mar. 31 over sub­poe­nas for Trump’s tax, bank and fi­nan­cial records. The pres­i­dent wants the jus­tices to re­ject de­mands for the records is­sued by House com­mit­tees and the Man­hat­tan district at­tor­ney.

The jus­tices and Chief Jus­tice John Roberts, who chided Trump in 2018 for his crit­i­cism of an “Obama judge,” had no com­ment, court spokes­woman Kathy Ar­berg said.

Trump’s com­ments were the most crit­i­cal he has been of sit­ting jus­tices since he took of­fice, though he has not shied away from pil­ing on com­plaints about fed­eral judges who have ruled against him or, no­tably, con­victed ally Roger Stone. Even as he was fly­ing home from In­dia Thurs­day, Trump tweeted from Air Force One that U.S. District Judge Amy Ber­man Jack­son, as well as the jury foreper­son for Stone’s trial, were “to­tally bi­ased.”

His com­ments about Gins­burg stem from in­ter­views in 2016 with The As­so­ci­ated Press and other me­dia out­lets that were crit­i­cal of Trump, then a can­di­date for pres­i­dent. She quickly apol­o­gized for her “ïll-ad­vised” re­marks, but Gins­burg has not re­cused her­self from any Trump case so far.

His ire at So­tomayor ap­pears to be ref­er­enc­ing a dis­sent­ing opin­ion she wrote on Fri­day. The pres­i­dent said the jus­tice was “try­ing to shame peo­ple with per­haps a dif­fer­ent view into vot­ing her way and that’s so in­ap­pro­pri­ate.”

But re­gard­less of party and ide­ol­ogy, jus­tices have said they write dis­sent­ing opin­ions to do just that — change the minds of peo­ple with whom they dis­agree through per­sua­sive rea­son­ing. In­deed, some­times draft dis­sents are so suc­cess­ful that they be­come ma­jor­ity opin­ions of the court.

So­tomayor wrote the opin­ion in a dis­pute over the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s new wealth test for im­mi­grants. Lower courts had blocked the new pol­icy from tak­ing ef­fect na­tion­wide, but the court split 5-4 in Jan­uary, with con­ser­va­tives in the ma­jor­ity, grant­ing a stay of the lower court or­ders. This al­lowed the rule to take ef­fect every­where but in Illi­nois be­cause that state was un­der a sep­a­rate court or­der block­ing the pol­icy.

Then on Fri­day, the court granted the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s emer­gency re­quest to be al­lowed to en­force the rule in Illi­nois, too. Again, the four lib­eral jus­tices noted their dis­sent, but So­tomayor went fur­ther, is­su­ing a writ­ten opin­ion.

“Claim­ing one emer­gency af­ter an­other, the Gov­ern­ment has re­cently sought stays in an un­prece­dented num­ber of cases, de­mand­ing im­me­di­ate at­ten­tion and con­sum­ing lim­ited Court re­sources in each. And with each suc­ces­sive ap­pli­ca­tion, of course, its cries of ur­gency ring in­creas­ingly hol­low,” So­tomayor wrote.

Trump’s com­plaints about judges be­gan well be­fore he won the White House. He harshly crit­i­cized Roberts for his vote in 2012 to up­hold the Af­forable Care Act. In 2016, he said he wouldn’t get a fair hear­ing in a law­suit over Trump Univer­sity in front of an In­di­ana-born judge of Mex­i­can de­scent be­cause Trump had pro­posed build­ing a wall along the U.S-Mex­ico bor­der.

The crit­i­cism con­tin­ued once Trump was in of­fice. In 2018, Trump lam­basted an “Obama judge” who had ruled against a Trump asy­lum pol­icy. That pro­voked the rare re­buke from Roberts.

“We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clin­ton judges. What we have is an ex­tra­or­di­nary group of ded­i­cated judges do­ing their level best to do equal right to those ap­pear­ing be­fore them,” Roberts said.

He added, “The in­de­pen­dent ju­di­ciary is some­thing we should all be thank­ful for.”

Trump, need­ing the last word, de­fended his own com­ment, tweet­ing de­fi­antly, “Sorry Jus­tice Roberts.”

JACQUELYN MARTIN — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Supreme Court Jus­tice Ruth Bader Gins­burg, left, holds up her hands as she and Supreme Court Jus­tice So­nia So­tomayor ar­rive to ap­plause for a panel dis­cus­sion cel­e­brat­ing San­dra Day O’Con­nor, the first woman to be a Supreme Court Jus­tice, at the Li­brary of Congress in Washington on Sept. 25, 2019. A month be­fore the Supreme Court takes up cases over his tax re­turns and fi­nan­cial records, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Tues­day made the un­usual sug­ges­tion that two lib­eral jus­tices should not take part in those or any other cases in­volv­ing him or his ad­min­is­tra­tion.

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