The Federal Bar Council in New York issued a statement Tuesday on President Donald Trump’s comments regarding a federal judge’s decision to temporarily block the ban on travelers from seven Muslim-majority nations.
Trump took to Twitter to question the legitimacy of U.S. District Judge James Robart – a George W. Bush appointee – writing, “The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!”
The full statement from the Federal Bar Council:
President Trump’s reference to a federal judge who had enjoined his executive order on immigration as a “so-called judge” threatens to undermine our constitutionally created judicial system. Nearly 230 years ago, in “Federalist 78,” Alexander Hamilton recognized that an independent judiciary was an “indispensable ingredient” of the Constitution, and that judges acting with “firmness and independence” would be essential to maintaining the guarantees of ”justice and public security.” For that reason, all three branches of our government should treat each other with dignity and respect.
In the decades since the founders adopted a Constitution with checks and balances and three branches of government, our nation’s independent federal judiciary has proven to be essential to protecting our constitutional rights and upholding the rule of law. On numerous occasions, constitutional rights have taken precedence over popular whim, and our country has benefited as a result. Hamilton recognized that “all possible care” is necessary to protect the judiciary from attacks against its legitimacy, and we write with that important principle in mind.
The Executive has every right to disagree with the ruling of a court, and to seek appellate review when the president believes that a judge has erred. When a president questions the legitimacy of a judge who disagrees with him, however, it undermines the rule of law and the propriety and authority of judicial review. For our democracy to maintain the rule of law, public officials, as well as the public generally, need to respect the judiciary as much as they respect the other independent branches of government.
It is the responsibility of all citizens, and particularly members of the bar, to defend the authority and legitimacy of the court, just as Hamilton anticipated. The Federal Bar Council is comprised of more than 3,500 lawyers who practice in the federal courts of the Second Circuit. It is a diverse group with differing political views on an infinite variety of subjects, but it is united by a belief in one great principle – the genius of our constitutional system is respect for the rule of law and for the women and men who tirelessly and selflessly exercise judicial authority. We have time and again spoken up to criticize those who attack a member of the judiciary and must do so now. While we collectively respect the office of the president, it is incumbent on every elected official, especially the president of the United States, to show utmost respect for the rule of law and the federal judges who are appointed to preserve it.
The organization began in 1928 as a chapter of a national association of attorneys employed by the federal government. They are dedicated to promoting excellence, mentoring, and collegiality among the members of the bench and bar of the Second Circuit.