Judge Once Maligned By Trump As A “Hater” Rules In Favor Of Border Wall

Gonzalo_CurielDuring the campaign, President Donald Trump was roundly criticized for his comments about the ethnicity of a judge who was presiding in a case involving his now defunct Trump University.  He argued that, because of the Mexican heritage of U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel (who was actually born in Indiana), the judge was biased against him and referred to him as a “hater.”  That “hater” however just handed down a major 101-page ruling in favor of Trump’s signature policy: the wall with Mexico.  President Trump did not mention the controversy in his tweet praising the decision.

Trump made repeated disparaging comments about Judge Curiel.  He told Fox News that Curiel had been “extremely hostile” toward him due to his position on immigration: “I think it has to do with, perhaps, the fact that I’m very, very strong on the border — very, very strong on the border,. He has been extremely hostile to me. Now, he is Hispanic, I believe.” He then repeated those comments on CNN in noting that “He’s a Mexican. We’re building a wall between here and Mexico.” Then at a political rally in San Diego where Curiel sits, Trump said “I have a judge who is a hater of Donald Trump, a hater. His name is Gonzalo Curiel and he is not doing the right thing.” He added that Curiel “happens to be, we believe, Mexican.”

At the time of Trump’s comments, I was one of many voicing strong objections to the personal attack. Indeed, I recently raised those comments in an interview with Tucker Carlson on Fox who also said that he also “hated” that attack on Judge Curiel even though he was critical of “rogue judges.”

In his decision,  Curiel  rejected the environmental challenge to the wall’s construction by California and various of environmental groups.  The lawsuit was based on the waiver of federal environmental laws to expedite the wall construction.  Curiel noted that, as a threshold matter, his role as a judge does not involve a ruling on whether “border barriers are politically wise or prudent.” In one notable reference, he refers to his fellow Hoosier — John Roberts.

“As fellow Indiana native Chief Justice Roberts observed in addressing a case surrounded by political disagreement: ‘Court[s] are vested with the authority to interpret the law; we possess neither the expertise nor the prerogative to make policy judgments. Those decisions are entrusted to our Nation’s elected leaders, who can be thrown out of office if the people disagree with them. It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.’ ”

Here is the decision:  Curiel Opinion

34 thoughts on “Judge Once Maligned By Trump As A “Hater” Rules In Favor Of Border Wall

  1. Judge Curiel belongs to the San Diego La Raza Lawyers Association, which is different from the militant La Raza group. Just the same, “raza” translate to “race,” specifically tribal Latino. Imagine the outrage for a Caucasian judge belonging to the White Lawyers Association.

    Finally, the judge didn’t rule in Trump’s favor so much as he ruled in favor of the American people. I’m not sure why emphasis must be misplaced so often.

  2. “…the Mexican heritage of U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel (who was actually born in Indiana),”

    – Jonathan Turley

    “…the harmony of the ingredients is all-important, and whatever tends to a discordant intermixture must have an injurious tendency.”

    – Alexander Hamilton

    “If it would be more turbulent, less happy, less strong,…”

    – Thomas Jefferson
    _____

    “Suppose 20 millions of republican Americans thrown all of a sudden into France, what would be the condition of that kingdom? If it would be more turbulent, less happy, less strong, we may believe that the addition of half a million of foreigners to our present numbers would produce a similar effect here.”

    – Thomas Jefferson

    “The influx of foreigners must, therefore, tend to produce a heterogeneous compound; to change and corrupt the national spirit; to complicate and confound public opinion; to introduce foreign propensities. In the composition of society, the harmony of the ingredients is all-important, and whatever tends to a discordant intermixture must have an injurious tendency.”

    – Alexander Hamilton

  3. From what I recall, it was because the judge belonged to a legal branch of La Raza, that was the basis of the complaint about bias. I felt that he handled this complaint poorly. It certainly would have been an issue for a prospective juror, so why not a judge? A judge needs to be unbiased in his rulings. How many times have we discussed politicized judges here on this blog? Merely being seated on the bench does not guarantee non bias, and membership in La Raza would be a significant concern. Trump handled his concerns quite poorly, failing to articulate well and making his comments based on ethnicity alone. It is entirely possible for a Latino to oppose illegal immigration. Statistically, they support it. A judge needs to leave his or her personal opinions at the door and make unbiased decisions.

    I am curious to know if it is racist for a public defender to insist that a jury be composed of minorities, when the defendant is a minority, based on the supposition that an all white jury trying a minority is racist. When Latino gangs firebombed black neighborhoods to drive blacks out, the racial makeup of the jury was a concern. Is it OK to have a concern about racial bias, or not? Because it seems that we have a piecemeal approach.

    I believe that Judge Curiel made an unbiased, prudent decision in this case, and comes out smelling like a rose while Trump is eating his hat. It is not the judges’ job to make policy. That honor goes to legislators. It is the judge’s honor and privilege to judge the merits of a case based on the law as it stands.

    I absolutely believe that anyone can be biased or unbiased. Racial, political, or any other bias is certainly a legitimate question to raise, but it should be assuaged by civilized people having a discussion, rather than tried in the public opinion of social media before all the facts are in.

    • I forgot to add that Trump’s opposition to the judge was that the law firm was a big Hillary Clinton donor, the judge belonged to La Raza and opposed Trump politically, he was a Mexican-American opposed to the wall with Mexico, and Trump’s legal team felt that the judge gave a series of biased rulings.

      Out of all that, a concern could be raised for racial and political bias. Racial bias as a Latino activist opposed to a politician that he felt was at cross purposes to La Raza, and political bias. However, the way that Trump described the problem was that Curial was Mexican-American and Trump wanted to build a wall between the US and Mexico. He kept trying to explain what happened in the case to make him feel that way, but the interviewer would not let him get to why he felt there was bias.

      Let’s take an intellectual exercise. Let’s say that a defendant of Family Research Council went before an openly gay judge. Or reverse it, and have the judge be a big donor of FRC and the defendant gay. Would it be prudent to address concerns of bias? Would you suspect bias if you got ruling after ruling that your team deemed wrong? Yes, a gay judge could properly rule in an unbiased fashion on a case involving someone who opposes gay marriage, and, yes, the judge could go the other way and show bias. The concern would need to be addressed. However, it should not be addressed in such a ham handed way as Trump did.

      • Oh, and before anyone gets their knickers in a twist about the suspension of environmental laws, California’s high speed rail was also exempted from environmental laws.

        That doesn’t make it right.

        Our government routinely suspends environmental laws when it suits its purpose. In fact, wind farms are in violation of environmental laws. If a sparrow falls in an oil pool at a refinery, they are fined vast sums of money. Migratory birds can be chopped to pieces in wind farms, however, without effect. Again, that doesn’t make it right.

  4. I think Trump’s concern with this judge was more about the judge’s membership in La Raza, than his heritage, and rightfully so.
    No apology needed.

  5. Unfairly maligned? How will you ever determine, with any degree of certainty, whether or not–and to what degree–the widely disseminated criticism, scrutiny and laser beam focus, aimed at this unfairly maligned jurist–served as the impetus for said judge to behave as he did? That’s right. You will never, ever know, with any degree of certainity, whether or not Trump’s remarks–however uncomfortable that they may have been–encouraged or promoted this so-called impartial jurist to decide as he did. Is this judge not human? Do you believe that his black robe cloaks an unprejudiced blank slate, untouched and unaffected by his background and ethnicity? Think again. Trump’s remarks just may have been the catalyst for this decision. . .and anyone, falsely claiming that the decision was in no way influenced by Trump’s previous remarks, is just speculating that human beings behave and react in a vacuum, which is false. . .even for those infallible beings we call, judges. Everyone calls Trump, crazy. Yeah. Crazy, like a fox.

  6. Wow! It would appear that the Honorable Judge Curiel is a man of wisdom and prophetic judgment in cases before him. He obviously knows his job description as well. Fending off political persuasion and making an appropriate decision based on law is a refreshing event. And kudos to his excellent choice of reference back to the Honorable Chief Justice Robert’s decision in a previous similar case.

    On Wed, Feb 28, 2018 at 6:23 AM, JONATHAN TURLEY wrote:

    > jonathanturley posted: ” During the campaign, President Donald Trump was > roundly criticized for his comments about the ethnicity of a judge who was > presiding in a case involving his now defunct Trump University. He argued > that, because of the Mexican heritage of U.S. District ” >

  7. A must-read article about SCOTUS and the Koch’s State Policy Network, just published at the Center for Media and Democracy- it portrays the donor class attack on labor. Like in Russia, U.S. labor receives an ever decreasing share of the national income that it creates. Labor’s share is at the lowest level in recorded history.

  8. Trump is not the first or last litigant who believes a ruling adverse to him is based on judicial bias. Judges just have to deal with that, it’s part of the job. But litigants should be more circumspect and Trump should feel foolish.

  9. “As fellow Indiana native Chief Justice Roberts observed in addressing a case surrounded by political disagreement: ‘Court[s] are vested with the authority to interpret the law; we possess neither the expertise nor the prerogative to make policy judgments. Those decisions are entrusted to our Nation’s elected leaders, who can be thrown out of office if the people disagree with them. It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.’ ”
    *************************
    Trump was right — not about the bias of the man but about his small-mindedness. Here’s a blatant attempt to curry favor with Roberts wrapped around a none-too-subtle call to action coupled with a jab at Democracy itself. Oh save us, Judge Curiel! Wounded egos are the most vicious and arrogant kind.

    • Isaac, if I’m reading you correctly, you’re suggesting that Trump talks to himself out loud, in public, with cameras and microphones and paid rally-goers in attendance. No???

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