Conservative judge stands up to Trump and slams AG Barr in ‘jaw-dropping opinion’
Democrats and Never Trump conservatives have been highly critical of U.S. Attorney General William Barr as well as Republicans in Congress for becoming loyal servants of President Donald Trump and doing his bidding at every turn. But law professor and former federal prosecutor Kimberly Wehle, in a February 12 op-ed for Politico, asserts that there is one conservative in the judiciary who clearly doesn’t consider himself a Trump servant: Judge Frank H. Easterbrook of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Wehle opens her op-ed by lamenting that it was painfully evident how much Trump has “defanged Congress’ oversight authority” when “the Senate acquitted the president of obstruction” during his impeachment trial. But Easterbrook, Wehle quickly adds, is “one conservative judge isn’t willing to let the executive branch steal power from his branch of government.”
In a “jaw-dropping opinion issued by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals,” Wehle asserts, Easterbrook “rebuked Attorney General William Barr for declaring in a letter that the court’s decision in an immigration case was ‘incorrect’ and thus, dispensable.”
Politically, Easterbrook is clearly right-wing: he is, Wehle notes, a “long-time speaker for the conservative Federalist Society” as well as “someone whom the late Justice Antonin Scalia favored to replace him on the U.S. Supreme Court” — and given Easterbrook’s background, his willingness to “rebuke” Barr is a big deal.
“Barr’s letter was used as justification by the Board of Immigration Appeals, the federal agency that applies immigration laws, to ignore the court’s ruling not to deport a man who had applied for a visa to remain in the country,” Wehle observes.
According to Wehle, Easterbrook’s assertion “offers another window into the way the Trump Administration is violating the division of power between the executive and judicial branches.”
Easterbrook wrote, “We have never before encountered defiance of a remand order, and we hope never to see it again.”