In a pair of tweets earlier this week, President Donald Trump called on two of the Supreme Court’s most liberal justices, Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, to “recuse themselves” from future cases involving his administration. Now, the Washington Examiner is reporting that one of Robert Mueller’s top prosecutors thinks Chief Justice John Roberts may soon get involved in the controversy.
Asked if Roberts would issue a public response to Trump’s call for the justices’ recusal, former Department of Justice (DOJ) official Andrew Weissmann told MSNBC that it’s not out of the question. “You could imagine Justice Roberts doing that,” he said Tuesday, according to the Examiner.
A battle on the bench
The drama started when the nation’s highest court lifted late last week the last remaining injunction preventing the Trump administration from implementing its latest immigration policy. Known as the “public charge rule,” the measure discourages migrants who would be reliant on public assistance from immigrating to the U.S., in part by making it more difficult for them to obtain permanent residency rights.
Four justices voted against the decision, and Sotomayor soon issued a fiery dissent in which she criticized both her conservative colleagues and the Trump administration.
“Today’s decision follows a now-familiar pattern,” she wrote Friday. “The Government seeks emergency relief from this Court, asking it to grant a stay where two lower courts have not. The Government insists — even though review in a court of appeals is imminent — that it will suffer irreparable harm if this Court does not grant a stay. And the Court yields.”
“I only ask for fairness”
In response, the president took to Twitter, where he lashed out at Sotomayor for “shaming” her colleagues and called for her, as well as fellow Justice Ginsburg, to “recuse themselves” from all “Trump-related” cases.
“Trying to ‘shame’ some into voting her way? [Sotomayor] never criticized Justice [Ginsburg] when she called me a ‘faker,'” Trump wrote. “Both should recuse themselves…on all Trump, or Trump-related, matters! While ‘elections have consequences,’ I only ask for fairness, especially when it comes to decisions made by the United States Supreme Court!”
Will Roberts push back?
The president wasn’t alone in going after Sotomayor; earlier this week, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) compared her statement to “an arsonist complaining about the noise from the fire trucks,” according to Fox News. And Weissmann apparently thinks Chief Justice Roberts may soon share his thoughts on the matter, too.
“Trump should be held accountable for his claims of bias,” the former Mueller prosecutor told MSNBC on Tuesday, according to the Examiner. “I know his followers may not want to hear it, but I do think that it’s still an important function to ask for a factual basis.”
For his part, Roberts has pushed back on the president before. According to USA Today, when Trump complained in 2018 about unfavorable ruling from Obama appointees, Roberts insisted:
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.
Trump was quick to fire back, tweeting at the time: “Sorry Chief Justice John Roberts, but you do indeed have ‘Obama judges,’ and they have a much different point of view than the people who are charged with the safety of our country.”