APNewsBreak: Roberts raps Trump for 'Obama judge' comment

WASHINGTON (AP) — Chief Justice John Roberts is pushing back against President Donald Trump for his description of a judge who ruled against Trump's migrant asylum policy as an "Obama judge."

It's the first time the Republican-appointed leader of the federal judiciary has offered even a hint of criticism of Trump, who has previously blasted federal judges who ruled against him.

Roberts said Wednesday the U.S. doesn't have "Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges." He commented in a statement released by the Supreme Court after a query by The Associated Press.

Roberts said on the day before Thanksgiving that an "independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for."

Last year, the president used the term a "so-called judge" after the first federal ruling against his travel ban. During the presidential campaign, Trump criticized Roberts himself for the chief justice's decisive vote in 2012 to preserve the Obama health care overhaul.

Trump also referred to a judge who was presiding over a fraud lawsuit against Trump University as a Mexican who would be unable to rule fairly because of Trump's proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border.

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Brett Kavanaugh sworn in as Supreme Court justice as protesters rally
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Brett Kavanaugh sworn in as Supreme Court justice as protesters rally
Judge Brett Kavanaugh is sworn in as an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court by Chief Justice John Roberts as Kavanaugh's wife Ashley holds the family bible and his daughters Liza and Margaret look on in a handout photo provided by the U.S. Supreme Court taken at the Supreme Court building in Washington, U.S., October 6, 2018. Fred Schilling/Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States/Handout via Reuters ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 6: In this handout photo provided by the Supreme Court of the United States, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, (Retired) administers the Judicial Oath to Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh as his wife Ashley Kavanaugh holds the Bible while joined by their daughters Margaret and Liza, in the Justices Conference Room at the Supreme Court Building on October 6, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Fred Schilling/Supreme Court of the United States via Getty Images)
A protester sits on the lap of "Lady Justice" on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court building as demonstrators storm the steps and doors of the Supreme Court while Judge Brett Kavanaugh is being sworn in as an Associate Justice of the court inside on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., October 6, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Demonstrators protest in the street behind the U.S. Supreme Court building as they wait for Justice Brett Kavanaugh to depart after he was sworn in as an Associate Justice in ceremonies at the court on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., October 6, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Demostrators chant ion front of the locked doors at the top of the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court building while Judge Brett Kavanaugh is being sworn in as an Associate Justice of the court inside on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., October 6, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Protesters overrun the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court as Brett Kavanaugh is sworn in as an Associate Justice in Washington, U.S., October 6, 2018. REUTERS/James Lawler Duggan
A man prays amidst protesters demonstrating on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court building as Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh is sworn in inside in Washington, U.S. October 6, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Protester in support of and against the appointment of Judge Brett Kavanaugh demonstrate on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court building as Judge Kavanaugh is sworn in as an Associate Justice of the court inside on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., October 6, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Annabella Helman of Indianapolis, Indiana, and Olivia McAuliffe of McLean, Virginia join hands as protesters overrun the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court as Brett Kavanaugh is sworn in as an Associate Justice in Washington, U.S., October 6, 2018. REUTERS/James Lawler Duggan
A protester stands on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court building in front of police after they cleared the steps of demonstrators while Judge Brett Kavanaugh was being sworn in as an Associate Justice of the court inside on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., October 6, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
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The president's latest remarks come as the Supreme Court is enmeshed in controversy over his appointment of Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Several justices have spoken out about judicial independence and the danger of having the court viewed as a political institution that is divided between five conservative Republicans and four liberal Democrats.

Trump had spoken Tuesday when a reporter asked for his reaction to a ruling by U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar in San Francisco that put the administration's asylum policy on hold.

The president complained that his opponents file their lawsuits in courts that are part of the liberal-leaning 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

"Every case that gets filed in the 9th Circuit, we get beaten. And then we end up having to go to the Supreme Court, like the travel ban, and we won," Trump said.

The president went on to say about the asylum ruling: "This was an Obama judge."

But the initial travel ban ruling in 2017 was issued by U.S. District Judge James Robart, an appointee of President George W. Bush. Roberts also was appointed by Bush.

The White House had no immediate response to a request for comment on Roberts' criticism on Wednesday.

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