[H]ere’s the larger issue the Republican nominee’s attacks on Judge Curiel highlights: It is actually a part and parcel of a broader GOP assault on judicial independence that predates Trump and transcends the recent racism directed at Curiel….
Trump’s race-based attacks on Curiel sound awfully familiar to those of us who remember the attacks on Justice Sonia Sotomayor at her confirmation hearings.
To be fair, what Senate Republicans are doing to the judiciary isn’t as ugly as what Trump said. But the damage to an independent judicial branch is as real. The claim that any judge who doesn’t work for my partisan interests isn’t a real judge? That didn’t start with The Donald and it isn’t limited to Curiel. The same Republicans condemning their presidential candidate for going too far on Curiel should admit their actions this past spring have also destabilized and undermined the federal judiciary in ways that are no less shabby, or consequential.
The problem is not that Trump is expressing an opinion many standard deviations from that of the GOP leadership. The problem is that, with all the bluster stripped away, his opinion actually lines up pretty nicely with theirs.
No wonder the Senate GOP is holding open a Supreme Court seat in the hopes that Trump will be able to fill it.
And as an attorney friend of mine points out, wealthy corporate figures like Trump tend to view lawyers as essentially like nannies or accountants or baristas, not scientists or doctors: they exist to get you what you want, not tell you what how things are or what you should do. Their skill is supposed to be applied in your service; if you don’t do that, you haven’t delivered. It’s easy to go from that mindset to one in which judges who don’t do what you want are likewise violating the Rich Guy-Lawyer Social Contract.