POLITICS
11/23/2018 02:23 am ET Updated Nov 23, 2018

George Conway Scorches Trump's 'Misleading' Attack On 9th Circuit Court Of Appeals

Conway laid out data tearing holes in a web of misinformation about a court Trump loves to hate.

Kellyanne Conway’s attorney husband went toe to toe with President Donald Trump on Thursday, this time defending the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals as Trump bashed it again — and again.

George Conway, a conservative Republican who would not typically defend rulings of the court, often criticized for its more liberal leanings, accused Trump of using “misleading’ statistics to attack the 9th Circuit.

Trump ripped the court as a “complete and total disaster” in a tweet Thursday, called it a “thorn in our side” in a phone call with service members and told reporters later that a judge who “knows nothing about it” made a “ridiculous ruling” against his immigrant asylum crackdown.

A day earlier, he slammed the court, saying its decisions are “overturned more than any circuit in the country, 79%.” 

Conway noted in a tweet that an average of 74 percent of all court rulings reviewed by the Supreme Court were overturned last year. He said the rate is generally high because the top court usually chooses to hear cases with rulings it’s more likely to overturn. 

The number of 9th Circuit cases overturned is higher, he added, because the court is “by far” the largest in terms of docket size and number of judges. The court covers a third of the country — nine states and two territories — with one-fifth of the nation’s population.

Among the nation’s 13 appellate courts, the 9th Circuit ranked third in terms of percentage of Supreme Court reversals from 2010 to 2015, according to an analysis by PolitiFact, based on statistics from Supreme Court records.

The 6th Circuit Court (which serves Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee) had an 87 percent reversal rate from 2010 to 2015. The 11th Circuit (serving Alabama, Florida and Georgia) had an 85 percent reversal rate in that period. The 3rd Circuit (Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and the Virgin Islands) had a 78 percent rate — 1 percentage point behind the 9th Circuit’s record.

University of Texas law professor Steve Vladeck came up with similar calculations for the last five court terms, with the 9th Circuit landing in fourth place.

Trump went on an unprecedented presidential rampage against the 9th Circuit after U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar — appointed by President Barack Obama — issued a temporary order blocking the administration from barring people who enter the country illegally from seeking asylum. The 9th Circuit has not yet been asked to rule on Tigar’s decision.

Chief Justice John Roberts defended the 9th Circuit after Trump’s attack, saying that an “independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for.”

Trump’s response was to quote Fox News on the 79 percent figure.

The Washington Post estimated that the Trump administration has lost a phenomenally high 40 to 50 major cases in the federal court system and surmised that the issue has been not partisan judges but more likely overstepping the executive’s constitutional bounds.

The American Bar Association issued a statement Wednesday sharply criticizing Trump’s comments.

“Disagreeing with a court’s decision is everyone’s right, but when government officials question a court’s motives, mock its legitimacy or threaten retaliation due to an unfavorable ruling, they intend to erode the court’s standing and hinder the courts from performing their constitutional duties,” the ABA declared.

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