Updated 3:59 p.m.
In a rare rebuke, Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. on Wednesday defended the nation’s independent judiciary against President Donald Trump’s attack on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and an “Obama judge” for delivering an “automatic loss” to cases brought by the Trump administration.
“We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges,” Roberts said in a statement issued by the court. “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.”
Roberts has been mostly silent after previous criticisms voiced by Trump against the judiciary, but Trump’s angry statements Tuesday apparently crossed a line.
“I’m going to put in a major complaint, because you cannot win—if you’re us—a case in the 9th Circuit and I think it’s a disgrace,” Trump said as he left for Florida. He was responding to a question about the ruling issued by U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar of the Northern District of California ordering a resumption of accepting asylum claims regardless of where the claimants entered the United States.
“When people file—every case gets filed in the 9th Circuit because they know—that’s not law. That’s not what this country stands for,” Trump told reporters. “They file it in what’s called the 9th Circuit. This was an Obama judge. And I’ll tell you what, it’s not going to happen like this anymore.”
Trump continued, “The 9th Circuit is really something we have to take a look at because it’s — because it’s not fair. People should not be allowed to immediately run to this very friendly circuit and file their case.”
Trump also said that when the asylum case makes its way to the Supreme Court, “we will win.”
Trump on Wednesday responded to Roberts on Twitter:
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. It would be great if the 9th Circuit was indeed an “independent judiciary,” but if it is why……
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 21, 2018
The spat with Roberts isn’t the first for Trump. The then-candidate bashed Roberts over his ruling that helped uphold the Obama-era Affordable Care Act. Trump called Roberts a “nightmare” for conservatives.