Presidential comments on pending cases in court can have an improper influence on the tribunal. This is most acute in military courts where the commander-in-chief can be seen as placing his thumb on the scales of justice. See, Military Judge: Obama’s Comments On Military Sex Abuse An “Undue Command Influence”; Trump’s comments about Bergdahl ‘disturbing,’ judge says.
This improper influence on the tribunal can also extend to cases pending in the federal courts. Presidential comments on pending Supreme Court decisions.
Which brings me to this incident from the 2016 election. Trump Attacks a ‘Mexican’ U.S. Federal Judge:
The presumptive Republican nominee for president devoted almost a quarter of his hour-long rally in San Diego on Friday night to criticizing Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is currently presiding over a class-action lawsuit against the real-estate businessman for his role in Trump University.
During his disjointed remarks at the rally, Trump invoked Curiel’s ethnicity, said the judge should recuse himself from the trial, called for an investigation into him, described him as “negative” and a “hater,” insisted on a summary dismissal of the case, complained about being “railroaded by a legal system,” and asserted he would win the trial.
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Mr. Trump also told the audience, which had previously chanted the Republican standard-bearer’s signature “build that wall” mantra in reference to Mr. Trump’s proposed wall along the Mexican border, that Judge Curiel is “Mexican.”
Judge Curiel’s parents were immigrants from Mexico, but he was born in Indiana. He is a U.S. citizen. Trump’s comments led to accusations of racism, including from Republicans.