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Is John Roberts’ Clash With Trump An Ominous Warning Of Things To Come?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

After yet another liberal California judge earlier this week blocked one of President Trump’s policies - this time a new asylum rule that would have required applicants to arrive at a designated port of entry (a lot to ask, I know) - the understandably frustrated president lashed out at liberal courts in general.


“I think it’s a disgrace when every case gets filed in the 9th Circuit,” said Trump. “That’s not law, that’s not what this country stands for. Every case that gets filed in the 9th Circuit, we get beaten and then we end up having to go to the Supreme Court, like the travel ban, and we won.”

The president was referring to the fact that, as ‘luck’ has it, the decision would need to be appealed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Known affectionately as the ‘9th Circus Court’ or ‘The Nutty 9th,’ this wackadoodle collection of Birkenstock-wearing hippies who call themselves ‘judges’ - the same group that famously ruled the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional because it contains the words “under God’ - seems to take delight in foiling literally everything Trump-related that comes before them on the basis of the firm legal precedent that Trump’s a meanie.

How liberal? Put it this way - so liberal even the squishy Senator Jeff Flake introduced a bill last year that would have split them up, lamenting that the court, as currently comprised, “represents 40 percent of all the landmass in the U.S., 20 percent of the population.”

So when Trump took a swipe at this black-robe-clad West-Coast edition of the Che Guevara fan club, he merely echoed sentiments conservatives have had for years. But because it’s all cool and stuff to criticize Trump, none other than Chief Justice John Roberts felt obligated to speak out.

“We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges,” Roberts said in a statement to the Associated Press. “What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them. That independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for.”


Interestingly, as Senator Chuck Grassley pointed out Wednesday via Twitter, presidents have criticized courts before - even the Supreme Court - and not gotten nearly the backlash from Roberts. 

Grassley’s history lesson referred to 2010, when former President Obama criticized the Supreme Court’s then-recent 5-4 ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission, a campaign finance case, during his first State of the Union speech. Obama’s public humiliation of the court in front of the entire nation - while they were all sitting there, no less - was so egregious that Justice Alito felt compelled to famously mouth the words “not true” as the world looked on.

To his credit, Roberts addressed the issue several weeks later but his criticism wasn’t so much directed at Obama himself, but rather at the “very troubling” political atmosphere at the State of the Union address. In fact, the chief justice actually went out of his way to suggest that Obama and others have “an obligation” to “criticize what we do” if they disagree.

Not so with Trump, of course. Instead, we’re lectured about judges somehow being apolitical when anyone with any political sense knows that’s not true. 

Can we attribute Roberts’ statement to congeniality alone? Sure, it’s good to get along with the people you work with, especially if you’re stuck with them literally for life. It would be miserable to have the same hatred for people you spend most of your day with that Left and Right seem to have for each other in the Trump-era. So in that sense I get that Kavanaugh and Kagan probably enjoy playing patty-cake together and Roberts probably gets a ‘do-gooder’ rush when he holds Ginsburg’s knitting while she takes her 5th power nap of the day. 


But let’s not forget that these judges are literally deciding whether America prospers over the next several decades or whether our country turns into a Third World hellhole. Yes, they have far too much power, but power they have, power that affects us all in more ways than we can imagine. They may be set for life, but our lives in many ways hang in the balance. 

Roberts’ statement responding to Trump, while assumedly well-meaning, speaks to the myopia of a man who has been removed from the life of an ordinary American for far too long. No “Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges” ?? Is this man serious? First of all, are there ANY examples of a judge appointed by Obama or Clinton NOT consistently ruling to strip the Constitution of every shred of its original meaning and turn the United States into a Third World banana republic?

On the other hand, while there are wonderful examples of judges appointed by conservative presidents literally preserving our nation with smart rulings, why do far too many of these judges get mushy in the head as their time on the bench grows? We all know what happened to David Souter. The real question is - will the same fate befall John Roberts?

President Trump deservedly lashed out at the chief justice again on Thanksgiving:

“Justice Roberts can say what he wants, but the 9th Circuit is a complete & total disaster,” Trump tweeted. “It is out of control, has a horrible reputation, is overturned more than any Circuit in the Country, 79%, & is used to get an almost guaranteed result. Judges must not Legislate Security and Safety at the Border, or anywhere else. They know nothing about it and are making our Country unsafe. Our great Law Enforcement professionals MUST BE ALLOWED TO DO THEIR JOB! If not there will be only bedlam, chaos, injury and death. We want the Constitution as written!”


The “Constitution as written.” Perish the thought. Sure, maybe that’s what most ordinary Americans want, but does John Roberts? Or does the man who has already ruled to keep Obamacare wish to replace Anthony Kennedy as the court’s ‘swing-vote,’ and thus the most important person in America?

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