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Trump and the judge

Donald Trump has been attacking U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel for having an “inherent conflict of interest” in a case that has been brought against the Republican presidential nominee.

Curiel is presiding over two of three lawsuits against Trump and his defunct Trump University. The judge was born in Indiana to parents who emigrated from Mexico.

Both cases before Curiel are class-action lawsuits from former students, claiming fraud and demanding their money back.

“Based on the rulings that I have received in the Trump University civil case, I feel justified in questioning whether I am receiving a fair trial,” Trump said.

Did Trump make this up out of thin air? The San Diego La Raza Lawyers Association, the Latino group of which Curiel is a member, considers various pro-illegal immigrant organizations as part of its “community”. Trump has, of course, made illegal immigration from Mexico part of his campaign and wants to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Also, the San Diego-based law firm representing the plaintiffs in the Trump University case, Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd, has paid $675,000 to the Clintons for speeches.

Hillary Clinton gave a $225,000 speech at the law firm as recently as Sept. 4, 2014. Bill Clinton also gave a speech for the same fee back in 2013, and another one in 2009 before the firm had been renamed (they used to be called Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins LLP).

Strange, isn’t it, that the mainstream media, dominated by the left, has mentioned none of this. On the contrary, they all outdo each other denouncing Trump as a “racist”.

And the saddest part is that Republicans are repeating this charge, seeming not to remember that the same slanders were levelled against every prominent Republican — including their idol Ronald Reagan.

No doubt Trump is being foolish to go after this judge; like the Council of Guardians in Iran, federal judges are deemed above reproach.  But this high-profile case is politically motivated and is simply a way to make him look bad.

Every day thousands of businessmen face litigation in all kinds of cases. That’s why America is crawling with lawyers; it’s the most litigious country on earth. If Trump weren’t running against the Clinton machine, would we even hear about this case? It might appear in a corner of an inside page of the Wall Street Journal.

Since the verdict in the case will not be rendered until after the election, Trump is now being tried in the court of public opinion, and even if vindicated, it will be too late.

Anyhow, if judges, including Curiel, should all be deemed unbiased, as Trump’s critics insist, why do we go through all the fuss about taking into account gender, ethnicity or religion when selecting them? U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor herself has challenged the notion that people’s diverse experiences do not matter.

A Trump supporter using the pseudonym Decius took note of this:

When Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor said that being a “wise Latina” influences her decisions for the better, “that was not merely nothing to worry about but a sign of her judicial temperament and fitness for the High Court. When Trump says being a Latino will influence this judge’s hearing of his case, he’s Hitler”.

Talk of double standards. In any case, as someone pointed out, most of this name-calling is a deliberate refusal to debate Trump’s main policies: immigration reform, more jobs for American workers through protectionism, and a more modest foreign policy.


Henry Srebrnik is a professor of political science at the University of Prince Edward Island.


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