President Trump Says The Ninth Circuit Court That Has Blocked His Orders Could Be Broken Up
Adding another layer to his complicated relationship with the judiciary branch on Wednesday, President Donald Trump said he'd consider breaking up the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in an interview with the Washington Examiner. In addition to tweeting about the court Wednesday morning, it's not the first time the president expressed disdain for the Ninth Circuit, which covers nine western states and Guam. In fact, it's the same court that upheld the initial stay on his travel ban executive order earlier this year.
"Everybody immediately runs to the Ninth Circuit," Trump told the Washington Examiner. "And we have a big country. We have lots of other locations. But they immediately run to the Ninth Circuit. Because they know that's like, semi-automatic."
The latest comments followed the decision from Judge William Orrick to block Trump's attempts to withhold funding from sanctuary cities. Although Trump tweeted that the Ninth Circuit was behind the block (as well as his travel ban), Orrick is a U.S. district court judge from San Francisco who does not sit on the Ninth Circuit. However, the case would head to that court should the Trump administration choose to appeal the decision — which seems likely considering Trump signed off his April 26 tweet with "See you in the Supreme Court!"
In subsequent tweets, Trump also said that he believed that both cases being brought up in the jurisdiction of the Ninth Circuit was an example of "judge shopping." (Again, the sanctuary cities ruling was not ruled upon by a Ninth Circuit judge.) Trump later told a reporter that he's "never surprised" by decisions from the Ninth Circuit.
Aside from the fact that the sanctuary city ruling was not a Ninth Circuit decision, his comment indicates a growing frustration with the court that has a reputation among its critics for being supposedly more "liberal" than other courts.
However, experts believe the stories of the court's liberal leanings might be overkill. For instance, the appointees from the Carter administration that were considered more liberal have largely either retired or passed away.
"The reputation is certainly deserved based on the history of the last 40 years or so," Arthur Hellman, a federal courts scholar at University of Pittsburgh Law School told the Associated Press. "It's been more liberal, by which we mean more sympathetic to habeas petitioners, civil rights plaintiffs, anti-trust cases, immigration cases. But it's less of an outlier now than it was."
While the actual process Trump might employ to break up the Ninth Circuit (if at all) remains to be seen, it's likely that he will not have a change of heart on the judiciary branch any time soon.