Close readers of the Los Angeles Times might have noticed a trend since election day: Our letter writers, most of whom already hold President Trump in low regard, have become more shaken and upset by the conduct of our commander in chief. The president’s initial threat to withhold federal funds in the wake of recent California wildfires and his refusal hold the Saudi crown prince accountable for the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi have served as two flash points for our readers’ anger.
Comes now Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. — a man not known for saying anything particularly newsworthy outside Supreme Court oral arguments and decisions — to make the biggest splash in Trump’s political morass. For the most part, readers have praised Roberts for defending the federal judiciary against recent attacks by Trump on “Obama judges”; even those who say the president is right about partisan jurists attack the Republican Party for producing a leader like Trump and a court like the one overseen by Roberts.
A. Marco Turk of Santa Monica says Roberts’ advocacy for an independent judiciary is crucial:
The autocrat in the White House has finally met his match: our chief justice breaking historical precedent and forsaking silence in response to our overreaching chief executive.
Roberts has stepped up to the plate in grand fashion for an independent judiciary striving to provide a level playing field for all those who appear before it. This is especially crucial during these “Trump times,” when we must secure our democracy and be vigilant at all costs to protect our rights in a free society.
Congratulations to Roberts for standing up to the bully on Pennsylvania Avenue.
La Cañada Flintridge resident Scott McKenzie faults Trump and Roberts:
Sorry, Justice Roberts, but I have to agree with Trump for once.
The myth of a nonpartisan judiciary vanished 18 years ago with Bush vs. Gore. More recently, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) flouted the Constitution by refusing to allow advice and consent on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland in 2016.
Finally, we had the spectacle of Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh denying during his confirmation hearing that he did not assault the totally credible Christine Blasey Ford.
Roberts had the intellectual honesty to recognize that the individual mandate of Obamacare was a tax, which Congress had the authority to levy. But tortured logic often still prevails at the Supreme Court, as in the Wisconsin gerrymandering case recently.
So, Trump shouldn’t worry so much — minority rule by his party is still firmly in place.
Matt Giorgi of Brea says hail to the chief justice:
I have disagreed with many of the Roberts court’s decisions; however, he has my respect and gratitude for publicly rebuking Trump’s latest statements about the judiciary. Roberts revives my hope that there are still independent authorities to protect against the unwarranted acquisition of power by any one person or group.
Since assuming the office, Trump has often shown utter disregard for the rules and norms that have held this country together. His latest rebuke of a judge for ruling against his administration shows a complete lack of knowledge or caring about our system of three separate but equal branches of government.
Our country has taken a right turn away from democracy and toward an autocratic leader who is emboldened by the lack of public opposition from Republicans. We are now the proverbial frog in the pot of slowly warming water.
I hope more citizens see the existential threat Trump poses to our system of government before the water comes to a boil.