Since Judge Robart – the federal judge in Seattle – ordered a temporary stay on President Trump’s ‘travel ban’ Executive Order, he has been hailed as a hero by parts of the media.
By contrast there has been a storm of protest against President Trump because of his criticisms of Judge Robart, and in particular because he referred to Judge Robart as a “so-called” Judge.
Trump being accused of questioning Judge Robart’s legitimacy by that comment, and there is a typically portentous editorial to that effect in the Guardian tomorrow,which appears to argue that he is trampling over the independence of the judiciary by making that criticism.
This is complete nonsense. A judge is no more above criticism than anyone else. Trump’s criticism of Robart was far milder than the criticisms that are routinely made of him – including by the Guardian – even though he is the constitutionally elected President of the United States, and there is nothing untoward about it.
In 2000 when the Supreme Court in a highly controversial and possibly wrong judgment handed the Presidency to George W. Bush many of the same people who are now criticising Trump for criticising Judge Robart criticised the Supreme Court, often in the most vehement terms, which went far beyond Donald Trump’s brief criticism of Judge Robart.
There is nothing unusual in Presidential Orders being challenged in court, and sometimes being blocked by court decisions. There is nothing unusual in judges being criticised. Talk of a constitutional crisis in the US is wildly overblown and is actually groundless. The system is working as it is meant to be, and there is no cause for apocalyptic language about attacks on judicial independence, or about the constitution being undermined or overthrown, or about the setting up of a dictatorship.
I do not know what the eventual outcome of this case will be when it reaches the Supreme Court. On balance, based on all the arguments I have seen, I think the President is more likely to win. It is however for the courts to decide the issue.
There is nothing to suggest that the Trump administration is disputing that, and it is completely wrong for anyone to imply otherwise.