Justice John Roberts has taken the unusual step of denouncing Trump's description of a judge who ruled against his administration as an "Obama judge", stressing the importance of judicial impartiality.

By Daniel Herborn

Posted on November 22, 2018

Earlier this week, Trump had taken aim at the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, saying a judge who had rejected his migrant aslyum policy as impermissible due to The 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act was an “Obama judge”.

That act states that any foreigner who arrives in the US, “whether or not at a designated port of arrival,” may apply for asylum.

A rare example of a judge entering the political fray

It is extremely rare for members of the judiciary to respond to criticism from politicians, but Justice John Roberts, Chief Justice of the Unites States, made an exception to this rule.

“We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges,” he said in a statement.

“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 responded on Twitter by doubling down on his criticism.

“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,” Trump tweeted.

“It would be great if the 9th Circuit was indeed an ‘independent judiciary,’ but if it is why…..are so many opposing view (on Border and Safety) cases filed there, and why are a vast number of those cases overturned. Please study the numbers, they are shocking. We need protection and security – these rulings are making our country unsafe! Very dangerous and unwise!,” Trump wrote in two tweets.

Trump on the 9th Circuit court: “terrible, costly and dangerous disgrace”

Trump returned to the topic an hour later, saying the 9th Circuit had become a “terrible, costly and dangerous disgrace. It has become a dumping ground for certain lawyers looking for easy wins and delays. Much talk over dividing up the 9th Circuit into 2 or 3 Circuits. Too big!”

“The 9th Circuit is something we have to take a look at because it is not fair,” Trump said earlier in the week.

The President has long been at odds with the appeals court, which has a jurisdiction covering much of California, mainly over immigration law issues.

The court also angered him by prohibiting construction of the Keystone XL pipeline project he supported and denying his administration’s efforts to introduce legislative restrictions on transgender troops serving in the military.

Roberts’ comments come at a time when court appointments are more politically charged than ever before after the divisive and protracted appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Many legal experts have underlined the importance of judicial independence in an era where the President has often been openly critical of the courts.