Questioning Judicial Integrity

Juan Cartagena

It started with another sporadic trumpism directed at Mexicans and their descendants. Students at the now shuttered Trump University allege they were defrauded and brought suit. How can a judge with Mexican roots be impartial and deign to judge me after I promised to build a wall to stop the immigration of his countrymen, asked the presumptive candidate for the presidency. That judge hates me, whined the multimillionaire who aspires to be President.

In other words, another day in the theater of the absurd and hotbed of racism in this unprecedented electoral campaign. The Mexican-American judge at issue is Gonzalo Curiel. Like nearly 100% of all federal judges, he is a former prosecutor. A reputed and successful narcotics prosecutor in California, Curiel apparently received death threats from the Arrellano Felix Mexican cartel. If he could survive that, the can survive any idiotic trumpism hurled his way.

In this world of trumpisms it would have sufficed to question the integrity of a sitting judge whose roots come from Mexico. But trumpisms are never-ending. Now the candidate has added Muslims to the list of judges who should never deign to judge him.

Garret Epps coined it best: “At its best the claim amounts to, Who are you - African-American, woman, Jews, ‘Mexican’ - to judge a real citizen, a white man?” And Hispanic National Bar Association President, Robert Maldonado, observed in a serious vein, that the attack on Judge Curiel is “an attack on all of the honorable diverse members of our judiciary who serve this country...[these] attempts to undermine the integrity of our federal judicial system are truly unprecedented and place undue stress on our democracy.”

It would have sufficed to end this chapter of the latest racist trumpisms attributed to the Machiavellian aspirant right here. But a panderer, or should I say savior, had to arrive to offer support to the narcissist pretender.

And this time, ironically it was in the form of the former member of the Texas Supreme Court and former U.S. Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales. He wrote a column to justify the basis of the concerns of the real victim in this affair - the one of the name that is synonymous with tall building and casinos verging on bankruptcy.

According to the former member of the President Bush’s Cabinet, yes, there is danger when persons with influence over millions of people seeking admission to another branch of government make baseless attacks on judicial independence. Judge Curiel’s ethnicity - one that Gonzales admits sharing - standing alone, is insufficient to show bias, he added. But the candidate has an equal right, Gonzales intimates, to an impartial jurist, Gonzales decried.

Just today, the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, admitted that a charge that Judge Curiel cannot perform his duties because of his Mexican heritage, is “a textbook definition of racist comments.”

And yet Alberto Gonzales concludes “if judges and the trials over which they preside are not perceived as being impartial, the public will quickly lose confidence in the rule of law upon which our nation is based.”

Not even Gabriel Garcia Marquez, may he rest in peace, could invent such nonsense. The candidate who talks incessantly attacks the capacity of a sitting judge solely based on ethnicity and that doesn’t threaten our national rule of law. But the same candidate with more resources and attorneys on retainer than 99% of the country cries wolf and says he’s a victim, and that concern threatens our national jurisprudence, according to his Latino defender.

Only in America, in 2016.

This article was published in the Huffington Post and you can read it here

Juan Cartagena, President and General Counsel of Latino Justice PRLDEF. To read the rest of Juan's columns Click Here

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