Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Trump Would Be Wise to Learn from John Roberts' Rebuke
by Tom Rogan
November 21, 2018 03:07 PM

The independence of the judiciary is as integral to our democracy as the right to vote. Absent that independence, the rule of law would exist subject to the whims of politicians and powerful vested interests.

For that reason, Chief Justice John Roberts was right to rebuke President Trump as he did on Wednesday. As the Washington Examiner's Melissa Quinn reports, Roberts said, "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 added that an "independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for."

This follows Trump's lament on Tuesday of a federal district judge's suspension of Trump's recent executive order on asylum claims. Trump complained that the judge in question "was an Obama judge, and I’ll tell you what, it’s not going to happen like this anymore."

While it's obviously true that some judges are more intellectually independent than others (I'm always struck that it seems to be the nominally conservative, rather than nominally liberal justices on the Supreme Court whose decisions are hardest to predict), the importance of judicial review cannot be understated. Unfortunately, however, Trump too often suggests that the courts exist to serve his agenda. And they manifestly do not. Instead, as Chief Justice John Marshall explained, "It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is." Sometimes we like the decisions the judiciary hands down and sometimes we dislike them, but our system of government and the fortune of our nation has its roots in the right of the judiciary to interpret and apply the law.

This is not to say that Roberts' comments suggest any predisposition against Trump. Instead, his carefully calibrated remarks serve simply to stand up for the integrity of the co-equal branch of government that he leads. Roberts is reminding judges across the nation that he has their back against the threat of political pressure. Roberts is also reminding everyone that he has their back against influences that would dilute the objective authority of the law.

Hopefully, President Trump will let Roberts' comment pass without response. To do otherwise would be to show ignorance without any prospect of import. After all, the exigent powers of the judiciary are protected by the Constitution and exist, deliberately, beyond the reach of any White House.

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