Trump made a baseless attack on two Supreme Court justices. Here’s why he did it.

The right way to seek recusal is with a motion, filed by lawyers, in court, laying out precise legal arguments. But Trump won’t do that with the justices, just as he didn’t do it with Curiel. No competent Supreme Court practitioner — be they Trump’s private counsel, or the solicitor general representing him in his official capacity — would ever file it.

Because any such motion would be meritless. Trump’s charge against Sotomayor was based on an opinion that he clearly hadn’t read and didn’t understand. The case didn’t involve Trump personally but the administration’s effort to tighten immigration rules. The justices, lifting a stay imposed by a lower court, allowed the new “public charge” rule to take effect; Sotomayor disagreed.

Her dissent didn’t mention Trump, and it didn’t even deal with the merits of the dispute. The opinion drily addressed the procedural standards for granting stays and observed, correctly, that “the Government has recently sought stays in an unprecedented number of cases.” The harshest thing Sotomayor said about the administration was that, “with each successive application, of course, its cries of urgency ring increasingly hollow.” That’s pretty tame stuff. It’s simply not bias for a judge to explain her reasoning in a dissent.