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What we should take away from the Trump-Roberts kerfuffle

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27.11.2018

President Trump and Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. seem to be at peace — for now. Two days before Thanksgiving, the president attacked an “Obama judge” for ruling against him on immigration. Roberts fired back by issuing a statement to the effect that there are no “Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges,” just independent ones. Trump elaborated with more accusations against liberal courts.

For the president, this was a rare kerfuffle in which many conceded that there was a certain brutal truth to what he said. Obviously, there is a predictable difference between judges appointed by Democratic and Republican presidents. Otherwise, lawyers would not file their cases in courts whose record shows that they’ll get a sympathetic hearing, as Trump has alleged. Brett M. Kavanaugh would have breezed to confirmation.

Partisan struggles over the federal courts have been going on since Marbury v. Madison, which originated in President John Adams’s attempt to fill judicial positions with his fellow Federalists in the last few days before president-elect Thomas Jefferson and the Democratic-Republicans took over in March 1801.

Roberts, a student of history with decades of experience as a lawyer and a judge before President George W. Bush elevated him to the Supreme Court 13 years ago, knows this better than most people, and certainly better than........

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