Separation of powers could be the new Game of Thrones
In a spat extraordinary even in these most extraordinary of times Donald Trump, continuing to refer to himself in the third person, has laid into a judge:
I have a judge who is a hater of Donald Trump, a hater. He’s a hater. His name is Gonzalo Curiel… I think Judge Curiel should be ashamed of himself.
Warming to his theme, The Donald said of the American born judge:
The judge, who happens to be, we believe, Mexican, which is great, I think that’s fine. You know what? I think the Mexicans are going to end up loving Donald Trump when I give all these jobs, OK.
So far, so Donald, right down to the somewhat optimistic take on the Mexican vote. But it is all very well blustering against Bill & Hills on the campaign trail quite another slagging off a member of the judiciary. Particularly one who is handling lawsuits over alleged fraud at your eponymous University and can use your continued outbursts as one of the justifications for an order unsealing various Trump University documents.
These make compelling reading. And if you think your uni is grasping you should consider Trump University where:
a) Staff were instructed to begin real estate seminars by playing “For the Love of Money” by the O’Jays.
b) Employees were told to collect financial information from those attending and rank them by their liquid assets to see who could afford more coursework.
c) Teachers were asked to “substitute the words ‘thank you’ with ‘congratulations'” in conversations with the students in order to jolly them along into signing up for more courses.
d) Courses could cost up to $35,000 (£24,000).
e) Staff were advised that in the event of the Attorney General showing up unannounced at a weekend seminar they should contact a senior manager immediately. “By law, you do not have to show them any personal information unless they present a warrant; however, you are expected to be courteous.”
All the above allegedly taking place at a University sold as being ‘The Next Best Thing’ to being the Donald’s “apprentice”.
Such are the times the Presidential nominee responded to the court order by resorting to tweets:
I have a judge in the Trump University civil case, Gonzalo Curiel (San Diego), who is very unfair. An Obama pick. Totally biased-hates Trump
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 30, 2016
Now all this might not matter so very much except that if this is how the Donald treats members of the judiciary when he is a mere nominee what kind of stuff is going to go down if he becomes President.
And if this is how he responds to litigation about Trump University about which he professes not to care what is he going to do if there are legal problems with the Trump Wall which he intends to be his lasting gift to the planet. And if he creates this much of a furore over a federal judge imagine the commotion over a Supreme Court nomination which may be the first key decision of his Presidency.
It is a truism that if the president doesn’t respect the judiciary, there’s nothing the judiciary can do to make him respect them. We may even be returning to the days of President Andrew Jackson saying of his Chief Justice:
John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it.
And without the support of the executive the judiciary is powerless.