Donald Trump Lashes Out At Chief Justice John Roberts Over Immigration Rulings

An “independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for,” Roberts said after the president's partisan critique of a federal judge.

President Donald Trump lashed out at Chief Justice John Roberts on Wednesday after the Supreme Court leader rebuked the president for suggesting parts of the federal judiciary are biased.

“Sorry Chief Justice John Roberts, but you do indeed have ‘Obama judges,’ and they have a much different point of view than the people who are charged with the safety of our country,” Trump said over Twitter.

He added: “We need protection and security ― these rulings are making our country unsafe! Very dangerous and unwise!”

Trump dismissed a ruling against his administration on Tuesday because it came from an “Obama judge.” 

In his first public criticism of the president, Roberts said in a statement, “We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges.” 

Roberts added, one day before Thanksgiving, that an “independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for.”

The president’s “Obama judge” comment came after U.S. District Judge Jon S. Tigar, who is based in San Francisco, put a stop on Monday to the Trump administration’s ban on refugees seeking asylum outside official points of entry along the U.S. border.

Trump attacked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which would hear an appeal of Tigar’s ruling.

“You cannot win, when you’re us, in the 9th Circuit,” Trump said outside the White House when asked about the ruling. 

The president complained that “they” file suits in the left-leaning 9th Circuit purposefully so that “we get beaten, and then we end up having to go to the Supreme Court.” In the case of the asylum ban, “they” refers to the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Referring to Tigar, he said on Tuesday, “This was an Obama judge. And I tell you what, it’s not going to happen like this anymore.”

Trump’s scorn for the nation’s judicial system isn’t new. The 9th Circuit ruled against the Trump administration’s attempts to enact a travel ban for people from several Muslim-majority countries last year, prompting Trump to sneer at a “so-called judge” in one of the cases.

Over Twitter on Wednesday, the president once again suggested the 9th Circuit was not an “independent judiciary” by claiming “so many opposing view” cases are filed there.

Trump cited a Fox News statistic on the court in a subsequent tweet on Wednesday, saying the Supreme Court has reversed 79 percent of decisions in cases it takes from the 9th Circuit. According to PolitiFact, the Supreme Court did reverse 79 percent of 9th Circuit’s decisions between 2010 and 2015. But in that time frame, the Supreme Court reversed even more decisions in cases from two other courts, the 6th Circuit and the 11th Circuit.

Notably, Trump has the opportunity to pack the 9th Circuit with some young, conservative judges, as there are currently six vacancies there.

The squabble between the heads of the executive and judicial branches comes more than a month after a nasty partisan battle to confirm Justice Brett Kavanaugh left some justices concerned about the Supreme Court’s reputation as an impartial arbiter of justice.

Following Kavanaugh’s confirmation last month, Roberts stressed the importance of maintaining the judicial system’s independence from what he called the “political branches” of government. The Supreme Court, he said, “would be very different without that sort of independence.”

This story has been updated with additional information on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Judge Jon Tigar. He is a U.S. district judge for the Northern District of California.