Trump rails against 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in wake of asylum ruling

Posted at 3:02 PM, Nov 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-20 17:02:39-05

President Donald Trump leveled his latest criticism of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday, slamming a federal judge’s decision to temporarily block an executive order that would have changed US asylum policy.

Trump criticized the appeals court after a judge from the Northern District of California — where cases get appealed to the 9th Circuit — issued a temporary restraining order blocking the Trump administration from barring migrants who cross into the US illegally from seeking asylum. The appeals court has been at the center of several other lawsuits seeking to block Trump executive orders, resulting in key defeats for the White House.

“The 9th Circuit, we’re going to have to look at that,” Trump said, before adding that “every case” that goes through that circuit results in “an automatic loss” for his administration. “The 9th Circuit is very unfair.”

Trump has previously criticized the appeals court, which also ruled against the President over two versions of his travel ban proposal. The Supreme Court ultimately upheld a watered down version of the travel ban.

Trump vowed that his administration will ultimately “win that case in the Supreme Court,” referring to the executive order changing US asylum policy.

The concept of “judge shopping” is nothing new on either side of the partisan divide. While liberals have frequently sought relief from the 9th Circuit, Republicans often rushed to the Fifth Circuit, a more conservative leaning court, to challenge President Barack Obama’s policies.

The Trump administration’s solicitor general, Noel Francisco, has moved aggressively to ask the Supreme Court to bypass certain appeals courts, including the 9th Circuit, particularly given recent conservative gains on the Supreme Court.

While the Trump White House has focused on nominating candidates to fill vacant federal judgeships, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has held off on moving to fill vacancies on the California-based 9th Circuit, likely out of deference to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the committee’s top Democrat and a California senator.

Former White House counsel Don McGahn and Feinstein went back-and-forth for months hoping to come to an agreement, to no avail, and McGahn erupted last month in a rare display of anger.

“We have spent nearly two years attempting to engage constructively with the senators regarding the growing number of judicial vacancies tied to California,” he wrote in a letter to Grassley on October 10.

Given the “extensive attempts at consultation,” McGahn said the President is “exercising his prerogative to nominate his own well-qualified nominees.”

The same week, the White House announced three new nominees to fill the California seats on the 9th Circuit.