Since I wrote about the Las Vegas judge who handcuffed a public defender for doing her job, I find myself needing to post two stories about the role of judges in our court system. This time, in support of a judge.
This one concerns–brace yourselves–Donald Trump.
I haven’t wasted my time saying anything about him because, hey, what is there to say? If I were to be rational, I’d sound like the hundreds of thousands of political experts who have been sort of open-mouthed but eloquent in their rationality.
And if I were to be irrational, I’d sound like the millions of people venting–on one side or the other–on the internet.
Except that Trump has now barrelled into my territory, i.e., lawsuits and court matters and how it all works.
I’m sure you’ve all read something about the weird 12-minute rant Trump went on at a San Diego rally, during which he slammed the federal judge who is adjudicating the lawsuit by former students of Trump U, in which they accuse his so-called “university” of fraud. What did he slam him for? For doing his job. And for being Mexican–which he isn’t–but why else do we expect from Trump? (See again that above link to the public defender handcuffed for doing her job.)
As the article below by Reid J. Epstein, at the Washington Post details, with ample quotes, it is an alarmingly ugly rant and utterly bizarre, as well as in nearly incomprehensible, disconnected language. Personally, I’m doubting that Trump is very bright. He certainly can’t express himself intelligently:
In one of his most personal attacks against an apolitical figure since becoming the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump delivered an extended tirade about the federal judge overseeing the civil litigation against his defunct education program.
Then I picked up an excellent analysis of Trump’s rambling speech from the Libertarian website, The Volokh Conspiracy, which was published in the Washington Post.
I don’t often agree with the Volokh Folk’s point of view, but the opinion piece by David Post, linked below, is solid on the law and scarifying about how Trump’s rant speaks to his character and potential as president:
Trump’s disgraceful attack on the judge who is hearing the case in which he is one of the parties is not only an outrageous attempt to tamper with the judicial system, it reveals his rather terrifying authoritarian tendencies.
Here’s a telling excerpt (not from Trump but from David Post):
…this is called “authoritarianism.” It’s what Berlusconi sounded like, what Chávez sounded like and what Perón sounded like — for that matter, it’s what Sulla and Caesar and the others who helped destroy the world’s first great republic sounded like: I am bigger than the law, I AM THE LAW.
From a TV talk show host, this would just constitute an eminently ignorable, semi-coherent, vaguely racist and rather pathetic little rant. But this ain’t TV anymore; from a man being seriously considered to head one of the three branches of our government, it is a not-too-thinly-veiled attack on the notion of judicial independence and the rule of law. If the guy in charge of executing the laws thinks the system is “rigged” — against billionaires, I suppose he means — and a “total disgrace,” then . . . well, you can figure it out. Enforce the law against himself? Or against his pals? That’s for suckers.
UPDATE MAY 31, 2016: And now this item, from the Times daily morning news bulletin. (What can I say? I’m a news junkie):
Mr. Trump used his favorite medium, Twitter, to post some thoughts on Memorial Day. His tweets ranged from touching on patriotism to denouncing the federal judge overseeing a case involving Trump University.
I believe Trump will expand upon this issue during the campaign, offering us his profound thinking about our justice system. And how he’s going to change it.
UPDATE 6/3/2016: The New York Times’s excellent Supreme Court reporter, Adam Liptak, did a careful and subtle report on the number of legal scholars who have excoriated Donald Trump:
Donald J. Trump shows contempt for the First Amendment, separation of powers and the rule of law, scholars across the political spectrum say.
What is “subtle” about it? Liptak carefully selected legal scholars who are for the most part conservatives.
UPDATE (or, rather, more GOP insanity on this subject) 6/8/16:
UPDATE 6/10/16, from Constitutional scholar Erwin Chemerinsky, lays out in clear, rational language what is factually wrong (and ignorant) about Trump’s view of the judiciary:
Donald Trump’s racist attack on the federal judge who is hearing a case involving Trump University reveals a profound misunderstanding of the judicial system. It again shows a stunning lack of under