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Trump Makes Unusual Demand of 2 Justices

President wants Sotomayor, Ginsburg to recuse themselves from any cases related to him
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 25, 2020 8:52 AM CST

(Newser) – President Trump is taking public aim at two liberal members of the Supreme Court—Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. But the president says he's only responding to what he perceives as bias against him from the two of them. Coverage:

  • The tweet: Trump first unloaded in a Monday night tweet from India in which he called on the pair to recuse themselves from any cases related to him. "'Sotomayor accuses GOP appointed Justices of being biased in favor of Trump,’” he wrote, referencing Laura Ingraham of Fox News. “This is a terrible thing to say. Trying to 'shame' some into voting her way? She never criticized Justice Ginsberg (sic) when she called me a ‘faker’. Both should recuse themselves on all Trump, or Trump related, matters!"
  • Unpacking that: As NPR reports, the criticism seems to have been triggered by this dissent, authored by Sotomayor, in an immigration ruling. In it, Sotomayor criticized the White House for turning to the Supreme Court repeatedly, "claiming one emergency after the other," and she said the court has been "too quick" to go along with the White House. "Perhaps most troublingly, the court’s recent behavior on stay applications has benefited one litigant over all others," she wrote, referring to Trump.
  • Ginsburg: Trump's reference to Ginsburg calling him a "faker" goes back to 2016, when she did indeed refer to candidate Trump by that word and said she could not imagine him as president, per the New York Times. Ginsburg later acknowledged that her words were "ill advised" for a Supreme Court justice.

  • Doubling down: During a Tuesday morning news conference in India, Trump was asked about the tweet. “I just thought it was so inappropriate, such a terrible statement for a Supreme Court justice,” he said, per Fox News. “She’s trying to shame people with perhaps a different view into voting her way, and that’s so inappropriate." He added: "I just don't know how they can not recuse themselves from anything having to do with Trump or Trump-related."
  • Analysis of dissent: Vox digs into Sotomayor's dissent in more detail. "Until recently, it was extraordinarily unusual for the government to seek such a stay from the justices while a case was still winding its way through lower courts," writes Ian Millhiser. Sotomayor's complaint is that the White House is doing this too often. In an earlier dissent in September, she wrote, "Granting a stay pending appeal should be an ‘extraordinary’ act. Unfortunately, it appears the Government has treated this exceptional mechanism as a new normal.”
  • Criticism: Trump is taking flak for his criticism. "This is outrageous," says Kristen Clarke of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, per Common Dreams. "Justice Sotomayor issued a reasoned dissent noting a pattern among the justices of allowing the Trump administration to ignore the appellate courts and skip to the SCOTUS to secure their desired outcome," she wrote. "The slight to Ginsburg and call for recusal are absurd."
  • From the right: The conservative Judicial Crisis Network criticized Sotomayor over the dissent. The group's president, Carrie Severino, appeared on Ingraham's show, and Fox News sums up her argument: She thinks "lower-court judges are repeatedly issuing nationwide injunctions at a quantity never before seen—that is, ruling that their decision affects the entire country rather than the jurisdiction wherein it was brought." Therefore, the White House is justified in turning to the Supreme Court so frequently, she said.
(Read more Sonia Sotomayor stories.)

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