The Trump administration this week suffered another setback in its agenda to reign in the out of control American immigration crisis. An unelected federal judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals placed a block on an executive order designed to punish sanctuary cities by cutting federal funds.
In response to the repeated overreach of judicial authority by these activist judges on the notoriously left-wing courts, President Trump said in an interview on Wednesday that he is “absolutely” considering breaking up the Ninth Circuit altogether. “There are many people that want to break up the 9th Circuit. It’s outrageous,” he said.
The President pointed out that these rulings are not coming out of any other circuit, which shows the Ninth Circuit is out of step with the rest of the country, and that his enemies are exploiting the known tendencies of the Ninth Circuit to hamper his agenda. “Everybody immediately runs to the 9th Circuit. And we have a big country. We have lots of other locations. But they immediately run to the 9th Circuit. Because they know that’s like, semi-automatic,” Trump said.
Conservatives have long derided the Ninth Circuit for its left-wing bias, and GOP lawmakers have introduced numerous pieces of legislation to remove several states from its jurisdiction. The Ninth Circuit currently hears appeals from courts in nine West Coast states and two U.S. territories. Of its 25 active judges, 18 were appointed by Democratic presidents.
It is the largest Court of Appeals Circuit in terms of its number of judges, the area it covers, and the population it serves. It includes the 15 westernmost states, including Alaska and Hawaii, which comes out to 20% of the American population. The court of appeals is the last level before the United States Supreme Court.
Trump accused his opponents of “judge shopping” to find judges with shared biases against his policies. This is a practice that law school students are taught to avoid engaging in. “You see judge shopping, or what’s gone on with these people, they immediately run to the 9th Circuit,” Trump said. “It’s got close to an 80 percent reversal period, and what’s going on in the 9th Circuit is a shame.”
District Judge William Orrick ruled that the President had overstepped his executive bounds by trying to deny federal funding to cities without congressional approval. The goal of the order was to punish cities that refuse to cooperate with federal law enforcement agencies in the handling of illegal aliens. The executive order directed that certain conditions be met before cities receive federal grant money.
Two immigration related executive orders, bans on travel from certain countries prone to terrorism and lacking adequate record keeping, were also blocked by judges on the Ninth Circuit. Two of the three judges who ruled against Trump’s executive orders, Judge Orrick of California and Judge Derrick Watson of Hawaii, have significant links to former President Obama.
Orrick raised and donated over $230,000 to Obama’s 2008 campaign, and Watson graduated in the same Harvard Law class as Obama. Obama also notably visited his home state of Hawaii right before Watson issued his ruling.
President Trump objects to the legal and logical soundness of the Judges’ rulings.
“The language could not be any clearer. I mean, the language on the ban, it reads so easy that a reasonably good student in the first grade will fully understand it. And they don’t even mention the words in their rejection on the ban,” Trump said. “And the same thing with this [sanctuary city decision]. I mean, when you have people that are being enabled to commit crime. And in San Francisco, when you look at Kate Steinle being shot and here is the court, you know, right in that same general area. And when you look at a Kate Steinle, when you look at so many other things.”
The young woman Kate Steinle was randomly murdered in San Francisco by an illegal alien from Mexico who had been previously deported five times. She has been a symbol of the evil of sanctuary cities. Judge Orrick who ruled against Trump’s executive order on sanctuary cities serves in the San Francisco area.
A bill called “Kate’s Law,” named in honor of Kate Steinle, would have established mandatory minimums for illegal reentry, but it was filibustered by Democrats. Apparently, the Senate Democrats share Judge Orrick’s lack of concern about the meaning of Kate Steinle’s death, as well as the thousands of other Americans killed by illegal aliens.
“Sanctuary cities have been very, very dangerous, very, very bad. And, you know, we’ve done a great job on law enforcement, we’ve done a great job at the border,” Trump said. “And all of our most talented people say sanctuary cities are a disaster.”
Judge Andrew Napolitano, the libertarian political commentator and legal expert, gave a helpful, but not optimistic, analysis of the President’s prospects of breaking up the Ninth Circuit and stopping these judges.
Napolitano thinks that the President would need Congress to approve breaking up the Ninth Circuit. The Democrats would filibuster the bill, and even with 52 seats Republicans would not have enough votes to get it through, according to Napolitano. Even if the bill did get through the Senate, all it would do is break the Circuit up into smaller units. It wouldn’t remove the problematic judges.
These judges are lifetime appointments, and this is a long-term war. Napolitano pointed out that the Fourth Circuit used to be the most conservative, but Obama successfully transformed it into one of the most liberal, second only to the Ninth circuit. Reagan and Bush both tried to make the Ninth Circuit more conservative, but they failed.
Even if Trump does successfully break up the Ninth Circuit, it will mainly be a symbolic victory. Replacing these judges will take decades. In the meantime President Trump is going to have to get creative to get his agenda through. When it comes to the courts, the Supreme Court is his last hope.