President Donald J. Trump has polarized the American judiciary along racial and political lines. He believes the Attorney General of the United States should serve as the president’s personal attorney and that the Federal Judiciary should rubber-stamp the policies of the presidency—virtually all of which are racist, homophobic, xenophobic, corrupt, and politically partisan, created to serve the interests of white nationalism and corporate greed.
When federal judges try to block the implementation of these policies, Trump will refer to them in blatant racist terms like “Mexican” judge or politically partisan terms like “Obama judge.”
The public stench of Trump’s racist, highly politicized criticism of the Federal Judiciary became too much for U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts to accept, forcing the Chief Justice last November to openly rebuke the president before the entire country.
President Fails to Appreciate Independent Judiciary
In a prepared statement presented to the law-abiding citizens of the United States, Chief Justice Roberts scolded the president like the spoiled child he daily resembles with this rebuke:
“We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges. What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them. That independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for.”
More recently President Trump directed his racist ire at U.S. District Court Judge Jesse Furman, a Jewish judge sitting in the Southern District of New York, by calling him an “Obama appointed judge” who issued a ruling adverse to the president’s interest in the census/citizenship question.
Emoluments Clause Case Alleging Self-Dealing Dismissed
Just days later the president scored what his personal attorney Jay Sekulow called a “complete victory” and a U.S. Justice Department spokesperson described as a unanimous decision that dismissed an “extraordinarily flawed case.” Trump was pleased with this decision, dismissing the lawsuit claiming Trump was illegally profiting from his position, that was rendered by judges appointed to the federal bench by Republican presidents, including one appointed by Trump himself.
The July 10, 2019 ruling by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals came in response to a lawsuit filed by the Attorneys General of Maryland and District of Columbia charging that the president was profiting from his personal business interests in violation of the Emoluments Clause. The three-judge Republican panel overruled Democratic appointed U.S. District Court Judge Peter J. Messitte who had ruled the lawsuit could go forward.
The Republican judges not only overruled but extraordinarily lashed out at Judge Messitte for “so clearly” creating the reversible error by “relying on [his] belief that it was unquestionably correct [for the emoluments lawsuit to proceed] and therefore that there existed no substantial ground for difference of opinion.”
The three Republican judges then expressed their collective opinion that “no reasonable spectator could possibly draw a firm link between who pays Trump businesses and the profits the President derives from them.”
Emoluments Lawsuits Continue
For the record, more than 200 Democratic members of Congress see a “firm link” between Trump’s personal business interest and government influence peddling. They have filed their own emoluments lawsuit. The Fourth Circuit will hear this lawsuit as well.
Meanwhile, the Attorneys General of Maryland and District of Columbia have strongly indicated they will seek an en banc hearing before the entire Fourth Circuit which is equally divided among Republican and Democratic judges.
This is what President Trump has reduced the nation’s judiciary to—not what the legal issue is about but the political preference of judges is. There was a time when Americans basically criticized a court ruling, not the judges who rendered it.
The three Republican judges on the emoluments panel decision were: Paul V. Niemeyer (appointed to the federal bench by President Reagan in 1987); Donald W. Shedd appointed to the bench by President H.W. Bush in 1990); and A. Marvin Quattlebaum, Jr. (appointed to the bench by President Trump in 2017).
Since the president made it his business to look at the political background of Judge Furman, it is only fair to look at how Judge Quattlebaum secured his appointment by Trump to the federal bench. Quattlebaum, a South Carolina native, contributed at least $25,000 or more to prominent South Carolina political hacks, like Sen. Lindsay Graham, who, in turn, supported his appointment to the federal judgeship.
Rump Judge Hostile to Civil Rights Cases, Minorities, Woman and Disabled
And what about Judge Donald W. Shedd?
At the time of his appointment, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights submitted a letter to the U.S. Senate considering Shedd’s appointment which, in part, stated:
“On behalf of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the nation’s oldest, largest, and most diverse civil and human rights coalition, we urge you to vote “no” on the confirmation of Dennis Shedd to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. We believe that Dennis Shedd’s eleven-year record on the federal district bench reflects hostility towards plaintiffs in civil rights cases, including minorities, women and persons with disabilities, a desire to limit Congress’s authority to enact protective legislation that is applicable to the states, and insensitivity to issues of race.”
And at the time Judge Niemeyer was appointed to the Fourth Circuit, there was not a single African American on the court and powerful politicians from North Carolina and South Carolina, motivated by historical Southern racism, worked diligently to keep it that way. Judge Niemeyer did not speak out about this judicial racism. It was not until the Obama presidency that the federal judiciary achieved the racial and political diversity the rest of the nation had experienced.
Does this mean that Judges Niemeyer and Shedd are racists from another historical era or that Judge Quattlebaum is a political crony who secured his judgeship through political donations?
But that is precisely the way President Trump believes the Federal Judiciary should function: white Republican judges who are racists, political cronies, misogynists, xenophobes, homophobes, and white nationalists promoting the political objectives of these belief systems through their own brand of judicial activism; and if they do not, then they are unpatriotic white Americans.
It will take generations to undo the racial, political and social damage this president has done to this nation’s court system.
A system that is Republican versus Democrat, not right versus wrong, justice versus injustice.