Neil Gorsuch

Gorsuch Calls Trump's Attacks on Judges 'Disheartening' and 'Demoralizing'

The president dismisses his SCOTUS nominee's objections.

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C-SPAN

During his confirmation hearing yesterday, Neil Gorsuch publicly repeated his private criticism of the man who nominated him to the Supreme Court, calling President Trump's attacks on the authority of federal judges "disheartening" and "demoralizing." Gorsuch, who currently serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, said judges "have to accept criticism" but objected to attacks on their "integrity or honesty or independence."

Gorsuch was responding to questions from Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who cited three occasions when Trump questioned the integrity of federal judges who ruled against him:

  1. During the presidential campaign, Trump complained that Gonzalo Curiel, the federal judge hearing a lawsuit against Trump University, was hostile to him. Trump suggested that the Indiana-born judge, whom he described as "Mexican," was biased against him because of his promise to block illegal immigration. "I'm building a wall," the candidate told The Wall Street Journal. "It's an inherent conflict of interest."
  2. After James Robart, a federal judge in Seattle, issued a temporary restraining order against Trump's travel ban last month, the president tweeted that "the opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!" A subsequent tweet said Americans should "blame him and [the] court system" if a terrorist attack occurred while the case was pending.
  3. A few days later, Trump preemptively criticized the 9th Circuit panel that heard his appeal of the TRO, saying, "The courts seem to be so political." After the appeals court upheld Robart's ruling, Trump called it "a political decision."

Gorsuch said he recalled those incidents. "I care deeply about the independence of the judiciary," he told Blumenthal. "I can't talk about specific cases or controversies that might come before me, and I can't get involved in politics. But I can say a couple of things about that."

Gorsuch said "judges have to be tough," since "we get called lots of names all over the place," and "have to accept criticism with some humility." At the same time, he said, "I know the men and women of the federal judiciary…I know how hard their job is, how much they often give up to do it, the difficult circumstances in which they do it…I know these people, how decent they are, and when anyone criticizes the honesty or integrity or the motives of a federal judge, I find that disheartening, I find that demoralizing, because I know the truth." When Blumenthal asked if "anyone" includes "the president of the United States," Gorsuch replied, "Anyone is anyone."

The distinction drawn by Gorsuch, between criticizing a judge's legal reasoning and questioning his integrity or motives, is important because it helps preserve the judiciary's ability to act as a check on the other branches. If a judge gets the law wrong, that is grounds for appeal; if a judge is not really a judge, that is grounds for ignoring him altogether. Likewise if judges reach decisions based on their ethnic or political allegiances instead of the law, which undermines their authority as independent arbiters of cases and controversies.

Trump does not recognize this distinction, viewing any judicial interference with his agenda as illegitimate. "We're also taking decisive action to improve our [immigrant] vetting procedures," he said at a Republican fundraiser last night. "The courts are not helping us. I have to be honest with you. It's ridiculous. Somebody [Gorsuch, presumably] said I should not criticize judges. OK, I'll criticize judges."

The courts are not supposed to "help" Trump. In fact, they are supposed to hinder him, to the extent that his policies conflict with the law. That is obviously a matter of dispute, and it should be the focus of Trump's criticism.

NEXT: 'Sex and the Constitution': Sexual expression before the moralists invented obscenity

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  1. so the 9th Circuit is not politically-driven? Seems if we’re going to knock a president over things he says, it’s okay to also criticize judges for decisions that are largely based on ideological reasons, no?

  2. Does anyone doubt that Obama’s EO’s would not be challenged by every pissant judge in the country? Gorsuch is basically extending professional courtesy here, there’s no doubt that scores of judges in the US are political operatives. Katherine Forest for example, is an SJW.

    1. Citation needed for the proposition that Obama’s EOs were treated with any greater deference by the federal court system than the EOs of George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, etc. (The fact is that EOs from prior presidents regardless of party were very rarely enjoined or overturned by the federal courts, and often not even challenged in court, because those presidents’ staffs actually worked with lawyers familiar with constitutional law and other relevant legal authority to craft defensible EOs in the first place rather than vomiting something out and slapping a presidential seal on it.)

  3. Gorsuch is wrong. He is letting his class and professional loyalty cloud his judgment. Judges are not and should not be above criticism. They are a branch of government and public officials just like the President or a congress creature. And they should be subject to the same criticism as any other public official.

    This bullshit idea of judges being some kind of special class of robed overlords above politics or public criticism has got to go. I have a newsflash for Gorsuch, every member of the federal judiciary is subject to impeachment by Congress. If Congress ever became united enough and pissed off enough, it could remove every sitting federal judge in the country and replace them all or not replace any of them outside of the Supreme Court for any reason they like and be acting entirely within their constitutional authority. If Gorsuch and the rest of the judicial priesthood don’t like that, too fucking bad.

    1. he’s also playing the game in dealing with Dem Senators. Knocking Trump is politically smart, and he may well be “dismayed” by attacks on the judiciary. Perhaps the follow up question should be if he’s equally dismayed when judges act like legislators.

    2. …every member of the federal judiciary is subject to impeachment by Congress.

      This should happen much more than it does. Checks and balances, dammit.

      1. I agree. They should impeach ten or twelve a year just to remind the others that it can happen.

        1. Roman decimation?

          judge: “what did I do!?!?!”
          congress: “nothing, but your number came up”

    3. So when Gorsuch said judges “have to accept criticism,” what he really meant was they’re “above criticism.”

      Is reading comprehension just like, not a thing in law school? Or do they actively train you out of it?

      1. John knows what he really meant.

      2. He didn’t say “have to accept criticism”. He said they can only be criticized for their judicial reasoning and cannot have their motives questioned. And that is complete bunk. They most certainly can and should have their motives questioned.

        Why don’t you try reading and thinking a bit before you comment? Maybe you should ask a few questions first or something because you seem to have a hard time understanding the meaning of words and properly characterizing the various arguments and positions.

        1. He didn’t say “have to accept criticism”.

          Try reading the first fucking paragraph of the post, asshole.

          1. John doesn’t have to accept criticism. Can’t you read either?

    4. That’s true enough (though I don’t think he made as strong a statement as you claim about being above criticism).

      I do think that it’s not great to have a president making ad hominem attacks against judges, though. If he thinks they made a wrong or politically motivated decision, he should say so and explain why he thinks that.

      1. Questioning a judge’s motives is not an ad hominem attack. Ad hominem is saying “because of who you are, you are wrong.” That is not what is happening here. Trump is saying “because you are biased and care more about politics than the law, you are making a wrong and unfair decision.” That is not an ad hominem for a couple of reasons. First, being fair and unbiased is one of the requirements of a judge. So saying a judge is being biased is a substantive criticism and not just a personal attack. Second and more importantly, he is not saying “you are biased and therefore your decision is wrong.” He is saying “your decision was wrong and doesn’t follow the law and the reason why you made a wrong decision is because you are biased.” The charge of bias explains the error it doesn’t justify it. Even if he is wrong and the judge isn’t biased, his point about the decision being wrong is still independent of that.

        1. I’m thinking of the “so called judge” remark and the declaration that a judge of Mexican heritage must be biased.

          Anyway, point is, he should be saying why they are wrong, not just lobbing insults and ridiculous hyperbole like “the opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country,”.

          1. Zeb-

            the declaration that a judge of Mexican heritage must be biased.

            Show me one death penalty appeal for a Black or Hispanic that doesn’t complain about a racially biased jury.

            Sauce for the gander, sauce for the goose…

        2. We are not allowed to question a judge’s motives? Really?

          I don’t recall there being any outrage when Linda Greenhouse claimed that the Republican appointees to the Supreme Court were acting like “political hacks” engaged in a “power grab” by voting to hear the appeal involving Obamacare’s federal exchanges. She also claimed that the appeal “lacked any merit at all” and that the only reason any justice would vote to hear the case was because he was a “political hack.”

  4. The distinction drawn by Gorsuch, between criticizing a judge’s legal reasoning and questioning his integrity or motives, is important because it helps preserve the judiciary’s ability to act as a check on the other branches. If a judge gets the law wrong, that is grounds for appeal; if a judge is not really a judge, that is grounds for ignoring him altogether. Likewise if judges reach decisions based on their ethnic or political allegiances instead of the law, which undermines their authority as independent arbiters of cases and controversies.

    Jesus Fucking Christ.

    Let me assist you all-of-a-sudden super-literal motherfuckers with common language usage by way of analogy.

    “So last night, we’re down four points with a minute to go, need a touchdown. And we’re driving it down the field. Third and seven from their 39 yard line, we run a perfect rub route, ball’s right on target – and our so-called receiver drops it. Just drops the goddamn ball.”

    When a pissed-off sports fan says something like this, he’s not literally saying the guy isn’t a football player; he’s pissed because the guy failed. Similarly, calling someone a so-called judge isn’t suggesting the guy isn’t really a judge.

    1. So last night, we’re down four points with a minute to go

      Unless the person who says this is an actual member of the team he can go suck a dick.

      Since we’re nitpicking on literally literal meanings.

    2. Yeah, sure. But don’t you think a president should be a little more careful in his choice of words than someone casually commenting on a football game?

  5. Senator Franken criticized Gorsuch for not being sufficiently deferential to the rulemaking perogatives of the bureaucracy. Is there any practical difference between that and Trump’s criticism of Robart and the 9th Circuit?

    The problem here is much deeper and more widespread than Trump’s aversion to criticism.

  6. The distinction drawn by Gorsuch, between criticizing a judge’s legal reasoning and questioning his integrity or motives, is important because it helps preserve the judiciary’s ability to act as a check on the other branches. If a judge gets the law wrong, that is grounds for appeal; if a judge is not really a judge, that is grounds for ignoring him altogether. Likewise, if judges reach decisions based on their ethnic or political allegiances instead of the law, which undermines their authority as independent arbiters of cases and controversies.

    That is an utterly meaningless paragraph. No judge, no matter how much of a bigot or political hack is going to say in so many words “I am ruling this way because I am a Democrat or a Republican or a Woman.” It doesn’t work that way. They will always have legal reasoning, no matter how half-assed to justify their decisions. So Sullumn is effectively saying that short of outright insanity, a judge’s motives can never be questioned.

    Yeah well, fuck that. Judges are human beings like everyone else. They are not always well-meaning. Some of them are nasty hacks. Some of them are horrible tyrants who have let the power of their position go to their heads. Some of them lack the proper temperament or intellectual ability and honesty to be in the position in the first place.

    1. And whether it be Donald Trump or the guy who serves you your coffee, people have a right to point that out. If Gorsuch thinks being a judge is so hard, then why does he want to be one so bad? If all of these special snowflakes on the bench have it so hard because big mean politicians say bad things about them sometimes, why do the old bastards never seem to retire?

      Give me a break. This is pathetic.

      1. John has penis judge envy.

        1. Yes Dan, take a giant shit on the thread. Spout a lot of retarded nonsense. That is what they pay you to do. S

          1. Even Tulpa is right sometimes, John.

            1. So every person on here who has harsh criticism of cops just has cop envy?

              1. I mean yea clearly they do. A lot officious powerless people here that naturally envy cops.

      2. I did have to laugh when Gorsuch opined on “how hard their job is, how much they often give up to do it, the difficult circumstances in which they do it”.
        Jesus, tap-dancing Christ, judges have to have the easiest life of anyone.
        Can you imagine having virtually unilateral power to make decisions, that you know, no matter how wrong, will never actually cost you anything? The worst that happens is you are removed from that position of power but will still be able to practice, at the highest levels, your chosen profession, and that removal is as rare as the proverbial hen’s tooth.
        And that a challenge to what you have said, no matter how strong the merit, will cost untold thousands of dollars and months of legal wrangling, enriching your former colleagues on both sides of the argument.
        Man! What a sacrifice!

    2. No judge, no matter how much of a bigot or political hack is going to say in so many words “I am ruling this way because I am a Democrat or a Republican or a Woman.”

      cough cough Sotomayor cough cough

  7. Reasoned argument is out, it’s all impugning the motives now. If you say anything critical of Trump it’s only because you’re a beta-male cuck loser who hates America and winning; if you say anything critical of Trump’s critics it’s only because you’re a fascist neo-Nazi troglodyte. The Left has won the debate – there’s no such thing as a good-faith argument, it’s all lizard-brain instinct governed by your race and sex and class and gender and all those other little identity-politics boxes your thoughts and feelings come pre-packaged in. You have no control over what you think and do, it’s inherent in your nature.

    Unless you’re a straight white male, of course. For some reason, straight white males can choose whether or not to be racist misogynistic homophobes whereas no other class of the lesser primates is capable of exercising free will in such a manner – all blacks are alike, all women are alike, all gays are alike – and yet it’s somehow wrong for the only class of animals capable of exercising free will to refer to those incapable of exercising free will as “lesser primates”. Go figure.

  8. Judges are not and should not be above criticism. – John

    Agreed.

    Also, I seem to recall Obo berating the entire supreme court during one of his sotu addresses. Was that an issue? Hm?

    1. He did. And that pissed me off at the time because Obama is such an asshole and so wrong about Citizens’ United. But in retrospect, he had every right to call them out. They, of course, had every right to tell him to fuck off. But, there is nothing wrong with any President telling the Supreme Court they are wrong. Who died and made those old bastards God?

      1. I have a question. Does someone really have to die for someone else to become God? Is that like a death curse or something?

        “With my dying breath, I curse you to become God!”
        *death rattle*

        1. Yes. It is well known that the power of being God can pass only upon someone’s death You can’t be given the status of God. It can only be willed to you by someone dying.

          That is English Common Law going back to the time of William the Conquer.

        2. “There can be only ONE!”

      2. He had every right to call them out. You had every right to be pissed about it and call him an asshole. Everyone now has the right to call Trump an asshole for the way he has called judges out.

        I would say that Obama’s choice of venue for the criticisms of the court about CU was shitty and asshole-ish. Same for Trumps approach to criticizing certain judges.

        No one is saying there ought to be a law forbidding any of this. So what’s the problem? It’s better to say things in a way that doesn’t make you sound like a childish asshole. And that’s something that both Obama and Trump aren’t good at.

    2. Something about principals and principles.

  9. I know from years of watching income tax cases that Judges are extremely biased when it comes to government collection of income taxes. I do not know if it is because they get paid by taxes, of if they do not want to blow up the corrupt system, or if indeed there is even more corruption, perhaps a paid bonus of some kind. Too many cases are decided by forum shopping, too many involve refusal to hear cogent arguments, too many are simply judges saying the income tax is correctly applied because I said so, and I am a judge and you’re not.
    AS Irwin Schiff said, the main problem with exposing the unlawful collection of income tax is the federal bench.
    That being said, Pete Hendrickson, a Michigan libertarian, has “cracked the code”, and thousands are receiving full refunds of state and federal income tax since 2003, even payroll taxes. All income taxes are indirect taxes, and are a tax on the exploitation of federal privileges for profit. The IRS will administratively act correctly if you pay first and ask for a refund later using their own procedures. No need for not paying and then fighting in court against the unlawful levies and liens. see http://www.losthorizons.com

  10. LEAVE TRUMPY ALONE!

  11. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/new…..mmons.html

    Police shoot knife-wielding man outside Parliment. reports of explosion and ‘at least 12 pedestrians mowed down on bridge.

    Any guesses who might have done this? Crazy Scottish separatists. The IRA? Angry Tottenham Hotspur fans? Anyone?

    1. Manchester United strikes again.

    2. Clearly the government needs to keep knives from entering the country.

  12. I am disheartened and demoralized after comparing the plain, clear wording of the law allowing the travel ban with the reasoning of the judges who interfered with it.

    If words have meaning, these judges shouldn’t have passed remedial reading, let alone Constitutional Law.

  13. I’m thinking this Gorsuch fellow is a shoo-in. NPR can’t even find anything to complain about.

    1. He is. That is why the Republicans should go full Reid and deprive the Democrats of the power to filibuster. Do it now on a nominee everyone knows is qualified and will be approved so you don’t have to do it later when the Notorious RBG finally keels over.

  14. “”””Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. Judges are above criticism especially when it hurts their feelings.”””

    He’s right, its in the Constitution.

    1. And don’t forget that clause in Article III that says all judges are well meaning. The Founders understood what a superior race judges were and the magical powers that wearing a black robe gave someone.

    2. Yes, because saying judges “have to accept criticism with some humility” is exactly like saying, “judges are above criticism . . . .”

  15. Nine for Mortal Men, doomed to die…

    1. Okay, that is awsome

  16. I don’t understand the whole Mexican judge thing. Here is Latina Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor explicitly saying what Trump is saying. Which of them is wrong and why?

    New York Times: A Judge’s View of Judging Is on the Record

    Quote:
    In 2001, Sonia Sotomayor, then an appeals court judge, gave a speech declaring that the ethnicity and sex of a judge “may and will make a difference in our judging.”
    “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life,” said Judge Sotomayor.

    1. I would imagine that Sotomayor is in fact correct about what she would hope.

  17. Trump can criticize judges as much as he wants. As long as he keeps nominating people like Gorsuch.

    Let’s focus on what’s important. Mr. supposed crony capitalist, closet dem, thin skinned, orange shit-gibbon, provided one the best SCOTUS nominees in a long while. And he apparently has no problem with said nominee criticizing him. That’s respectable.

    We should be applauding Trump.

    Let’s also remember that the decision we’re talking about is one that is so laced with SJW, lefty, partisan overtones, that even the 9th circuit itself has intense disagreement as demonstrated by the dissent on the en banc decision. Trump didn’t criticize a non-partisan judge doing his job. He called a hack out for being a hack….and everyone knows it.

  18. Heat….Kitchen!

  19. “Trump? Don’t really know they guy. Actually, hate him. How much more would you like me to grovel before you? Anything else you want me to say?”

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