Trump’s criticism of the Ninth Circuit Court, then, strikes as hardly atypical. Presidents, political actors dependent on the electorate, behave as political actors dependent on the electorate. They criticize jurists when they believe those jurists act as political actors — or even when they merely disagree with them. The indiscretion here, strangely, involves recognizing jurists politicizing the bench rather than the act of jurists politicizing the bench.
A chief justice weighing in on political matters through a prepared statement seems as the extraordinary part of all this. In injecting himself into the rough-and-tumble of Washington, Roberts validates Trump’s criticism. Defending the judicial branch as detached from politics in such a political manner seems self-refuting.
Trump finds himself in good company in criticizing rulings from the federal bench. One president went further — and did so by criticizing John Marshall, a man who served longer in John Roberts’s position than any other.