Politics|Trump Demands Two Liberal Justices Recuse Themselves From His Cases

The president ratcheted up a fight with a judicial system he sees as biased against him.

Credit…Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press

Peter Baker

NEW DELHI — President Trump lashed out at two liberal Supreme Court justices on Tuesday, escalating his battle with the judicial system to new heights despite entreaties by his attorney general to refrain from Twitter blasts that complicate the administration’s legal fights.

Weighing in on a domestic matter before embarking on a day of ceremony and meetings in India, Mr. Trump seized on an opinion by Justice Sonia Sotomayor and a years-old comment by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to demand that the two Democratic-appointed jurists recuse themselves from any cases involving him.

“‘Sotomayor accuses GOP appointed Justices of being biased in favor of Trump,’” he wrote on Twitter, citing Laura Ingraham of Fox News. “This is a terrible thing to say. Trying to ‘shame’ some into voting her way? She never criticized Justice Ginsberg when she called me a ‘faker’. Both should recuse themselves on all Trump, or Trump related, matters!”

“While ‘elections have consequences,’” he added, “I only ask for fairness, especially when it comes to decisions made by the United States Supreme Court!”

Mr. Trump may have been referring to a recent dissent by Justice Sotomayor against an order by the court to allow the Trump administration to proceed with a plan to deny green cards to immigrants who are deemed likely to become “public charges” reliant on government aid programs.

Justice Sotomayor wrote that the Trump administration had become too quick to run to the Supreme Court after interim losses in the lower courts.

“Claiming one emergency after another, the government has recently sought stays in an unprecedented number of cases, demanding immediate attention and consuming limited court resources in each,” she wrote. “And with each successive application, of course, its cries of urgency ring increasingly hollow.”

Justice Sotomayor did not overtly accuse Republican-appointed justices of being biased in favor of Mr. Trump, as the president asserted, but complained that the court “is partly to blame for the breakdown in the appellate process,” because it “has been all too quick to grant the government’s” reflexive requests.

She added: “Perhaps most troublingly, the court’s recent behavior on stay applications has benefited one litigant over all others,” a reference to the Trump administration.

The five justices who voted in the majority in the case were all appointed by Republicans, but Justice Sotomayor did not frame her disagreement in partisan terms, and her dissent was written in much the same way as others by justices who lose divided rulings.

In adding Justice Ginsburg to his tweet on Tuesday, Mr. Trump resumed a four-year-old feud. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Justice Ginsburg called Mr. Trump a “faker” and said she could not imagine him as president.

He responded at the time that she should resign. She did not, but expressed regret, saying her remarks were “ill advised” for a Supreme Court justice and promised that “in the future I will be more circumspect.”

The justices are highly unlikely to comply with Mr. Trump’s latest demand that they recuse themselves from the many cases involving him that come before their court. But the president’s attack raised the temperature of his continuing assault on the law enforcement and justice systems, which he has tried to bend to his will in increasingly bold ways.

In recent days, he has repeatedly attacked the judge overseeing the case of his friend Roger J. Stone Jr., who was sentenced to more than three years in prison for lying to Congress and intimidating a witness.

Attorney General William P. Barr went on television to ask Mr. Trump to stop weighing in on legal cases involving his friends, because it was making it “impossible” for him to do his work. A group of federal judges convened an emergency conference call because of the attacks on Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who presided over Mr. Stone’s trial.

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