In a rare censure, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts spoke out after President Donald Trump criticized a California federal judge who recently blocked the administration’s migrant asylum policy as being an “Obama judge.”
America doesn’t have “Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judge,” Roberts told the Associated Press, which also noted this to be the first time the Republican-appointed justice had ever, even mildly, criticized Trump.
“What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them,” Roberts expanded upon in a statement. “That independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for.”
The judge to whom Trump was anonymously referring is U.S. District Court Judge Jon Tigar, who wrote in a Monday ruling, “Whatever the scope of the President’s authority, he may not rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden.”
Following Tigar’s temporary restraining order against the administration’s move to bar all migrants from crossing the southern border unless they entered from an official point of entry, Trump told reporters Tuesday, according to The Hill. “You go to the Ninth Circuit and it’s a disgrace, and I’m going to put in a major complain.”
This isn’t the first time Trump has spoken critically of justices who rule against his policies. While running for office in 2016, he questioned Arizona-born judge Gonzalo Curiel’s ability to fairly rule on lawsuits over Trump University due to his Mexican heritage. Trump also chided U.S. District Judge James Robart as a “so-called judge” for blocking the travel ban in February 2017, inspiring public reactions that caused judges to fear for their safety.
Although Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg has gone on the record criticizing Trump in the past—she called him a “faker” during his campaign before retracting her comments, noting “Judges should avoid commenting on a candidate for public office”—this is Roberts’ first time publicly stepping into the ring.