His public crusade against Gonzalo Curiel, the federal judge presiding over the civil fraud suit against Trump University, continued Thursday when he (again) said Curiel’s ethnicity makes him inherently unfit to adjudicate cases against him.
There is much to say about the sorry history of whites and other majorities attempting to delegitimize minority judges with allegations of intrinsic bias. But for now, keep in mind that the Republican Party’s explicit strategy is to preserve a Supreme Court vacancy so that Trump may fill it.
Supreme Court vacancies are relatively rare. But with the power to nominate Supreme Court justices comes the power to fill all federal judicial vacancies, of which, over the course of a presidency, there are typically hundreds. Trump has already said he will likely cull from a list of exclusively white, overwhelmingly male judges to fill Supreme Court vacancies. But we now also know that he thinks judges of Mexican heritage shouldn’t be appointed to the federal bench at any level, because they will be reflexively biased against a president with restrictive immigration policies, irrespective of the nature of the challenges to his use of power.
The Trump University case has nothing to do with immigration policy, or racial bias. It’s a fraud case. If a Mexican federal judge can’t preside impartially over a race-neutral civil suit against Trump, it follows that a Mexican federal judge can’t fairly adjudicate any claims against him. Because what supposedly animates the bias isn’t any underlying substance, but the controversial nature of Trump himself. As Republicans continue their indiscriminate filibuster of Merrick Garland, and slow-walk other federal judicial nominees, keep in mind what they’re holding out for.