Professor Bybee Comments on President Trump’s “So-called Judge” Tweet

Posted on Monday 2/6/2017

Keith J. Bybee, the Paul E. and the Hon. Joanne F. Alper ’72 Judiciary Studies Professor, College of Law; Professor of Political Science, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs; and Director, Institute for the Study of the Judiciary, Politics, and the Media, comments on President Trump’s ”So-called Judge” Tweet regarding Federal District Court Judge James Robart’s ruling on the Executive Order on immigration.

“Although President Trump has promised a whole new way of governing, he has been caught up in a traditional conundrum of American public life. When Trump denounced the ‘so-called judge’ who temporarily suspended the administration’s immigrant ban, Trump tapped into the longstanding public belief that many judicial decisions are influenced by political factors. At the same time, when Trump presented his Supreme Court nominee Judge Gorsuch as a jurist exclusively guided by constitutional principle, Trump tapped into the longstanding public trust of judges as impartial arbiters of law. Like virtually all elected officials, Trump wants to have his cake and to eat too, praising the judges he likes as paragons of impartiality and criticizing the judges he dislikes as mere politicians in robes. The question will be whether Trump, a most unconventional politician, will be able to successfully sustain the thoroughly conventional claim that all judges are political—except when they are not.”