A Frustrated and Confused Trump Wants to Bust Up the 9th Circuit

Having mistakenly attacked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for thwarting his sanctuary cities order, Trump now wants to dismember it. Photo: Olivier Douliery - Pool/Getty Images

Fresh from his tweeted attacks on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for a district court decision against his executive order seeking to punish sanctuary cities that said court of appeals — being a court of appeals — did not have a thing to do with, President Trump went out of his way in an interview with the Washington Examiner to say he wants to break up the Ninth Circuit.

That’s by no means a novel idea for a Republican; conservatives have always disliked the Ninth Circuit as “too liberal,” much as the Fifth Circuit has an unsavory reputation among liberals as being too conservative. With judicial appointments depending on who is president when vacancies occur and how confirmations are handled by the Senate, you just can’t keep the circuits balanced in any way. But Trump seems to be under the impression that if the Ninth Circuit went away, he’d stop having all these legal problems with his executive orders.

As I noted this morning when Trump pitched his earlier temper tantrum about the Ninth Circuit, the judge who messed with his sanctuary cities order, William Orrick, would still be a federal judge no matter which court of appeals had jurisdiction over appeals from his rulings. And so long as Trump keeps issuing orders that affect California, California judges will have the ability to grant Californians relief when appropriate, which is all that Orrick did.

Aside from all that, Trump does not seem to have the foggiest idea why these godless liberal judges from hippie-land keep ruling against him:

“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 of his travel ban. “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.”

A pretty cursory glance at all the adverse decisions on the travel ban should inform Trump that the problem was not with the language of his order, but with the things he said during the campaign that suggest the order was an implicit effort to impose a blatantly unconstitutional Muslim ban. He might eventually prevail on that issue if it reaches the U.S. Supreme Court, but he has no one but himself to blame until then.

As for the new decision on the sanctuary cities order, all his ranting and raving about murderous immigrants has almost nothing to do with the legal issues, which involve the contradiction between his attorneys’ claim his order is intended to be merely symbolic, and his own (and his attorney general’s) claims they will strip the sanctuary cities of any and all federal funds.

If you did not know better, you might suspect the whole saga is intended to excite Trump’s hard-core base, which may otherwise become disappointed by all he has been unable to accomplish so far.

In any event, splitting up the Ninth Circuit ain’t happening so long as Democrats have the 41 senators needed to filibuster such a plan in the Senate. But the president is free to rave on if he wishes.

An Angry and Confused Trump Wants to Bust Up the 9th Circuit