Posts Tagged ‘Donald Trump’

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg goes off on the presidential race

Sorry, Justice Ginsburg, but those comments about a candidate whose legal interests might well come before the Court this year were waaaay over the line [Dan Drezner; Bloomberg View editorial; Orin Kerr (“cringe-inducing”)] “In the unlikely (and horrifying) event of Bush-v.-Gore-like election litigation, I do not see how Justice Ginsburg could refuse to recuse after these sorts of comments.” [Jonathan Adler, more (the Justice deserves commendation for ensuring that the Court will consist of only 7 non-recused Justices, the better to speak with a clear majority voice, in case Donald Trump figures in a disputed election)] Yet more: Bob Fredericks, New York Post (thanks for quote). Some contrary views: Profs. Erwin Chemerinsky and Paul Butler, quoted in the ABA Journal; but note this from Prof. Jeff Pojanowski re: Prof. Chemerinsky’s views in 2014 (link fixed now).

More, Steve Lubet: “Political neutrality is not a facade, it’s an aspiration. When a justice begins campaigning for or against a candidate, however, it means that she has stopped trying. And that is what is wrong with Justice Ginsburg’s recent remarks.”

Update: “On reflection, my recent remarks in response to press inquiries were ill-advised and I regret making them. Judges should avoid commenting on a candidate for public office. In the future I will be more circumspect.” [Washington Post]

Politics roundup

  • Vice presidential candidate Bill Weld, at Libertarian ticket town hall with Gary Johnson: trade war that followed Smoot-Hawley tariff “croaked the world economy.” Points for using “croaked” in a policy debate [CNN transcript]
  • Litigator in chief? USA Today deep dive on Donald Trump’s lawsuit involvements including non-payment and tax categories [earlier]
  • Lawyers and law firms had given 350 times more to pro-Clinton than pro-Trump efforts as of late May [American Lawyer, graphic] Should a lawyer work for Trump? [Josh Blackman]
  • Be warned. “If Congress refuses to act, Hillary will take administrative action” against guns, her campaign vows [J.D. Tuccille]
  • Raises interesting constitutional issues whatever one’s views of a #NeverTrump revolt [Washington Examiner]
  • Trial lawyer/social conservative slate bid to control Texas GOP goes down in flames. [Texas Tribune, earlier]

Trump vs. Judge Curiel: the non-case for recusal, cont’d

Sunday’s post quoted Eugene Volokh to the effect that on current evidence there is no case, not even close, for Judge Gonzalo Curiel to recuse himself in the Trump University litigation. Now Ken White at Popehat has a short explainer of the issues, noting, inter alia, that Trump can’t “earn” recusal by stepping up his attacks on Judge Curiel. Meanwhile, Alison Frankel at Reuters gives two reasons Trump’s lawyers won’t move for recusal. First, they need to worry about their reputation; second, there’s a real possibility they’d face sanctions if they did file such a motion, given precedents such as the Second Circuit’s 1998 opinion in MacDraw Inc v. CIT Group upholding sanctions issued by then-U.S. District Judge Denny Chin against lawyers who had moved for his recusal based on his Asian ancestry.

Meanwhile, a Legal NewsLine reports that Judge Curiel recently turned down a class action settlement over jeans labeling as providing too little relief to consumers as compared with lawyers and cy pres bystanders. Tweets Adam Schulman of the Center for Class Action Fairness: “Trump’s least favorite judge seems good on class actions to me.”

“Heap no abuse upon judges”

Ira Stoll recalls a verse from Exodus — translated in the New Berkeley Version of the Christian Bible as “Heap no abuse upon judges” — and notes that the temptation to excoriate judges over unwelcome rulings knows no place or era. Ken White at Popehat pens an explainer, “Is there anything unusual about Judge Curiel’s orders in the Trump University case?” Former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales kinda-sorta defends the propriety of litigants’ blasting judges, though in a left-handed way (“if I were a litigant who was concerned about the judge’s impartiality, I certainly would not deal with it in a public manner as Trump has, because it demeans the integrity of the judicial office and thus potentially undermines the independence of the judiciary, especially coming from a man who could be president by this time next year.”), drawing a response from Cassandra Robertson via Jonathan Adler. Eugene Volokh examines the no-not-even-close-on-current-evidence case for Curiel’s recusal. Earlier on the controversy here.

Meanwhile, journalists in Detroit have been recalling the story of the flamboyant, litigious, floppy-haired millionaire populist known for his willingness to insult judges and everyone else, who shoved aside the conventional pols to capture a major party nomination. Of course I’m referring to the 1998 run for governor of Michigan of attorney Geoffrey Fieger, a longtime Overlawyered favorite [Deadline Detroit, Zachary Gorchow/Gongwer]

And also relating to this year’s presidential race, I discussed the Libertarians’ ticket of Gary Johnson and Bill Weld and its attractions in an interview with Mona Charen for her Ricochet podcast “Need to Know” with Jay Nordlinger. More here.

P.S.: Where might a candidate have learned to rant against federal judges who don’t rule his way as “corrupt”? Maybe from New York Times columnist Paul Krugman.

Donald Trump inveighs against federal judge hearing Trump U. case

Last night, before a convention center filled with his followers in San Diego, presidential candidate Donald Trump chose to launch a lengthy diatribe against the local federal judge hearing the case against his Trump University. Trump said Judge Gonzalo Curiel, of the Southern District of California, should recuse himself, but cited no reasons for why other than that he had been appointed by Obama and had repeatedly ruled against Trump’s lawyers.

In his rambling remarks, Trump also referred to Judge Curiel as “Mexican”: the jurist, previously the chief federal prosecutor for drug cases in southern California, was born in Indiana. Stoking by repetition, as his crowd of thousands booed, Trump called the federal judge “a hater of Donald Trump, a hater. He’s a hater,” and said he should be placed under investigation by the court system. I wonder whether anyone will be shocked if the judge requests personal protection for himself and his family as the trial proceeds.

Obama’s 2010 State of the Union remarks railing at the Justices of the Supreme Court in their presence regarding Citizens United were bad. This is far worse: the case is still in progress, Trump is a party, and the attack is on a single judge who will now find his task of ensuring a fair trial complicated. Trump, who speaks regularly around the country, chose to unleash the diatribe in the locality where the judge and others who will participate in the case, such as jurors, work and live. [More: David Post]

Law professor Josh Blackman, active in the Federalist Society, writes as follows:

His jaw-dropping comments reflect an utter ignorance about what judges do, and amounts to a dangerous attacks on the fairness of our court system. Whatever negligible good will he built up by nominating a list of solid potential nominees to the Supreme Court was squandered with this scurrilous attack. Those who defended his selection process should immediately rebuke him for these baseless insults….

I am speechless. Absolutely, and totally speechless. I was highly critical of President Obama’s attacks on the Court. I cringe to think what will happen when the Supreme Court rules against [Trump].

This might be a good time to catch up, if you haven’t, on the legal saga of Trump University, which I’ve been following for more than a year (when I first looked into it as part of my research into the work of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman). Some coverage: Jillian Kay Melchior/NRO last July, Emma Brown/Washington Post last September, Ian Tuttle/NRO in February, Roger Parloff/Fortune, Joe Mullin and Jonathan Kaminsky/ArsTechnica. In the San Diego proceedings, one law firm ranged against Trump is Robbins Geller, descendant of convicted class-actioneer Bill Lerach’s Lerach Coughlin, and the subject of some less than flattering coverage in these columns over the years.

International free speech roundup

  • Tonight in New York City, Cato presents its Milton Friedman Award to Danish journalist Flemming Rose, a key figure in the [still-ongoing] Mohammed cartoons episode, and author of The Tyranny of Silence [David Boaz, Cato]
  • Troubles in Turkey: journalists sentenced to two years in jail for reprinting Charlie Hebdo cover [Reuters, Reason] Erdogan’s campaign against foreign critics assumes extraterritorial reach with complaints against comedian in Germany and Geneva exhibit [Colin Cortbus/Popehat, Foreign Policy]
  • Ya mad wee dafty: “Man faces hate crime charge in Scotland over dog’s ‘Nazi salute'” [Guardian]
  • Publish a “wrong” map of India, face seven years in jail and a huge fine [Hindustan Times; “crore” = 10 million]
  • United Kingdom man fined £500 for calling romantic rival “fat-bellied codhead. [Blackpool Gazette]
  • Emulating USA tycoon D. Trump, China pressures finance analysts against negative forecasts [WSJ, Barron’s on the Marvin Roffman story, which I used to tell when giving speeches on my book The Litigation Explosion]

Supreme Court and constitutional law roundup

Donald Trump vs. the Washington Post

Do you think Donald Trump is the first U.S. politico to menace publishers over bad coverage? Not even close. My new Cato piece cites a few examples from a depressingly long history. Plus: reprinted at Newsweek.

Bonus: Sen. Sherman Minton (D-Ind.) who put forth the remarkable proposal to make it “a crime to publish anything as a fact anything known to be false,” and who had led a Senate committee’s investigation of the Gannett newspaper chain over its (then) Republican-leaning politics, was later nominated by President Harry Truman to be an associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, where he served for seven years and became a leading exponent of judicial deference to the executive branch.

Politics roundup

  • Disparage at thy peril: three Democratic lawmakers demand FTC investigation of private group that purchased $58,000 in ads disparaging CFPB, a government agency [ABC News] So many politicos targeting their opponents’ speech these days [Barton Hinkle]
  • A pattern we’ve seen over the years: promoting himself as outspoken social conservative, trial lawyer running for chairman of Republican Party of Texas [Mark Pulliam, SE Texas Record]
  • Some of which goes to union political work: “Philly Pays $1.5 Million to ‘Ghost Teachers'” [Evan Grossman, Pennsylvania Watchdog via Jason Bedrick]
  • “However objectionable one might find Trump’s rhetoric, the [event-disrupting] protesters are in the wrong.” [Bill Wyman/Columbia Journalism Review, earlier]
  • Hillary Clinton’s connections to Wal-Mart go way back, and hooray for that [Ira Stoll and column]
  • I went out canvassing GOP voters in Maryland before the primary. Here’s what they told me. [Ricochet]