AJC Statement on President Trump’s Criticisms of Judicial Branch

February 9, 2016 -- New York -- AJC is deeply disturbed by the tenor of President Trump’s public criticism of federal judges considering the legality of his executive order on refugees.

AJC General Counsel Marc Stern issued the following statement:

President Trump is not the first president to have a major initiative challenged by the courts in the exercise of their constitutional duty to “say what the law is.” But he is the first, certainly in modern times, to so directly attack judges for doing their best to fulfill their judicial oath to “administer justice without respect to persons.”

In the exercise of their judicial duty, judges are required to make difficult decisions, often unpopular and sometimes disputable. Judges are no less entitled to respect when they make those calls than the president is in the exercise of his as he makes difficult, disputable, and sometimes unpopular policy decisions.

American democracy is strong enough to withstand either the validation or invalidation of the president's executive order on refugees. The terms and scope of the executive order are sensitive, and determining its legality is difficult, yet necessary. If the president is dissatisfied with the result in one court, appealing that decision is an available remedy.

What does endanger our democracy are unbridled and unjustified attacks by one branch of government on another, especially when the branch under attack is charged with checking the excesses of the other two. Such attacks are no less a threat to our country than those who would use violence to undermine our democratic institutions.

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