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Douglas Turner: Trump has to stop calling out judges

WASHINGTON – President Trump has troubles with judges in Canada, too. However, former President Barack Obama did not appoint these jurists, and none are “Mexicans” or “haters.”

Canada’s high court,  the Court of Appeal, has ruled in favor of two who felt willfully defrauded, cheated in their investments in the Trump organization’s 66-story Trump Tower in Toronto. The damages could run in the millions. So far, Trump has not yet called the Canadian judges any foul names, or questioned their integrity.

But denouncing U.S. judges is now part of this “nationalist” president’s established playbook. Trump said Federal Judge Derrick Watson’s ruling in Hawaii against his latest Muslim travel ban is “absolute judicial overreach.”

Wednesday night, Trump sarcastically asked wildly cheering supporters at a rally in Nashville, Tenn.: “You don’t think this was done for political reasons?” Obama nominated Watson.

Trump’s first Muslim travel ban was unhorsed in February by Judge James Robart of Seattle, Wash., whom Trump called a “so-called judge.” The Ninth Federal Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Robart.

During the campaign, Trump unleashed his fury on a federal judge in California, Gonzalo Curiel, who sided with plaintiffs defrauded by Trump’s fake Trump University scheme, which was exposed 13 years ago by New York’s Department of Education.

Trump labeled Curiel a “Mexican” and a “hater” and said his Hispanic heritage placed him in “absolute conflict” with the Republican candidate. Curiel was born in Indiana.

Trump’s public judge baiting is new to American politics. Because judges can’t defend themselves, aggrieved political figures use courtroom proceedings to answer back. The old American, or English or Canadian way. Practices accepted for centuries. But not by Trump, who thinks that creating enemies on the bench wins him votes.

But what was marginally acceptable in candidate Trump is reprehensible and totally unacceptable in President Trump.

As a veteran defendant in so many lawsuits, Trump must know that the law and the courts are the very foundation of what makes America, Great Britain and Canada unique, makes us truly exceptional throughout the rest of the world.

The core of this exceptionalism is our voluntary compliance with law and patient acceptance of our federal and state court systems. Trump’s calling out judges, either on Twitter or on the stump, is completely unacceptable because this undermines what keeps each of us safe.

Robert Bolt, the English author and screenwriter, wrote eloquently about law in his film, “A Man for All Seasons,” about St. Thomas More, the Lord Chancellor who was executed by King Henry VIII.

“The law is not a ‘light’ for you or for any man … The law is a causeway which, so long as he keeps to it, a citizen may walk safely,” Bolt has More saying.

In another place, More says, “this country [Great Britain] is planted thick with laws from coast to coast … and if you cut them down, do you think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?”

Congress shouldn’t need to be reminded about the struggles that brought us law. All around the ceiling of the House of Representatives are portraits of great lawgivers from Moses, to Napoleon, to George Mason, the author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, to Pope Gregory IX, and 19 others.

One can only hope that some member of the House or the Senate might be inspired by these historical figures to bring a privileged resolution of censure against Trump for his selfish, wanton and destructive behavior.

Amazingly the American Bar Association has been silent on the matter. Someone must be moved to act.

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