President Donald Trump is threatening to break up the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, which blocked his executive order banning travel from several nations with large Muslim populations and restricted the acceptance of refugees.
Asked by the Washington Examiner if he had considered proposals to split the court, Trump replied: “Absolutely, I have.”
“There are many people that want to break up the 9th Circuit. It’s outrageous,” Trump told the website. “Everybody immediately runs to the 9th Circuit. And we have a big country. We have lots of other locations. But they immediately run to the 9th Circuit. Because they know that’s like, semi-automatic.”
Trump claimed that those who oppose him are “shopping” for sympathetic judges by going to the 9th Circuit, where 18 of the 25 jurists were appointed by Democratic presidents.
“You see judge-shopping, or what’s gone on with these people, they immediately run to the 9th Circuit,” he said. “It’s got close to an 80 percent reversal period, and what’s going on in the 9th Circuit is a shame.”
Trump’s comments echoed a series of tweets he fired off on Wednesday:
There are some flaws in Trump’s logic.
The most recent ruling against Trump, in which Judge William Orrick issued an injunction blocking his executive order targeting so-called sanctuary cities, wasn’t handed down by the 9th Circuit. Orrick sits on the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, which is one level below the appeals court.
In addition, judge-shopping did not occur. The case was brought by the city and county of San Francisco and the nearby county of Santa Clara, which are within the jurisdiction of that District Court, as well as within the jurisdiction of the 9th Circuit.
The statistic Trump cited about the appeals court’s rulings being overturned 80 percent of the time was also misleading.
According to The Washington Post, 80 percent of the 9th Circuit decisions taken up by the Supreme Court were reversed in 2015-2016. Yet only one-tenth of 1 percent of the 9th Circuit’s decisions were heard by the Supreme Court. In addition, other circuit courts had even higher reversal rates.
Finally, Trump can’t break up a circuit court on his own. He needs the help of Congress. And while some Republicans have pushed the idea of splitting the circuit and creating a new court, Democrats in the Senate would almost certainly block the move.
Responding to Trump’s comment that he “absolutely” was looking at breaking up the court, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) responded with two words:
Trump’s comments about the court also drew a sharp reaction from critics on Twitter:
Language has been clarified to better describe the relationship between Judge Orrick and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.