Trump says 2 justices should sit out cases, but they decide

WASHINGTON (AP) — A month before the Supreme Court takes up cases over his tax returns and financial records, President Donald Trump on Tuesday made the unusual suggestion that two liberal justices should not take part in those or any other cases involving him or his administration.

The remarks critical of Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, New Yorkers like Trump, came during a news conference in India, where Trump was wrapping up a 36-hour visit full of praise and pageantry. They followed tweets in a similar vein.

Justices decide for themselves when to step aside from cases the court is considering, and it is highly unlikely either justice would sit out cases involving Trump, including two cases the court will hear on March 31 over subpoenas for Trump's tax, bank and financial records. The president wants the justices to reject demands for the records issued by House committees and the Manhattan district attorney.

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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 justices and Chief Justice John Roberts, who chided Trump in 2018 for his criticism of an “Obama judge,” had no comment, court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said.

Trump's comments were the most critical he has been of sitting justices since he took office, though he has not shied away from piling on complaints about federal judges who have ruled against him or, notably, convicted ally Roger Stone.

His comments about Ginsburg stem from interviews in 2016 with The Associated Press and other media outlets that were critical of Trump, then a candidate for president. She quickly apologized for her “ïll-advised" remarks, but Ginsburg has not recused from any Trump case so far.

His ire at Sotomayor appears to be referencing a dissenting opinion she wrote on Friday. The president said the justice was “trying to shame people with perhaps a different view into voting her way and that’s so inappropriate."

But regardless of party and ideology, justices have said they write dissenting opinions to do just that — change the minds of people with whom they disagree through persuasive reasoning. Indeed, sometimes draft dissents are so successful that they become majority opinions of the court.

Sotomayor wrote the opinion in a dispute over the administration’s new wealth test for immigrants. Lower courts had blocked the new policy from taking effect nationwide, but the court split 5-4 in January, with conservatives in the majority, granting a stay of the lower court orders. This allowed the rule to take effect everywhere but in Illinois because that state was under a separate court order blocking the policy.

Then on Friday, the court granted the administration’s emergency request to be allowed to enforce the rule in Illinois, too. Again, the four liberal justices noted their dissent, but Sotomayor went further, issuing a written opinion.

“Claiming one emergency after another, the Government has recently sought stays in an unprecedented number of cases, demanding immediate attention and consuming limited Court resources in each. And with each successive application, of course, its cries of urgency ring increasingly hollow,” Sotomayor wrote.

Trump most recently criticized U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson just a few days before she was scheduled to sentence Stone to prison.

In 2018, Trump lambasted an “Obama judge” who had ruled against a Trump asylum policy. That provoked the rare rebuke from Roberts.

"We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges. What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them," Roberts said.

He added, “The independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for.”

Trump, needing the last word, defended his own comment, tweeting defiantly, “Sorry Justice Roberts.”

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