Usually when the judicial branch of government comes up during presidential campaigns, the discussion focuses on what kind of judges the candidate would nominate to the Supreme Court. For Donald Trump – his list of potential nominees is cause for concern. But that doesn’t even begin to capture the problem.
We’re hearing a lot lately about the lawsuit brought against him by former students of Trump University. His response hasn’t just been racist. It is downright disturbing.
“I have a judge who is a hater of Donald Trump, a hater. He’s a hater,” Trump said at a campaign rally in San Diego, adding that he believed the Indiana-born judge was “Mexican.”
He also suggested taking action against the judge after the election: “They ought to look into Judge Curiel, because what Judge Curiel is doing is a total disgrace. Okay? But we will come back in November. Wouldn’t that be wild if I am president and come back and do a civil case? Where everybody likes it. Okay. This is called life, folks.”
Legal experts are right when they suggest that this kind of personal vendetta undermines our courts.
On the other hand, Trump has “suggested” that he wants to exploit the judiciary in an attempt to bully his critics.
During a rally in Fort Worth, Texas, Trump began his usual tirade against newspapers such as The New York Times and The Washington Post, saying they’re “losing money” and are “dishonest.” The Republican presidential candidate then took a different turn, suggesting that when he’s president they’ll “have problems.”
“One of the things I’m going to do if I win, and I hope we do and we’re certainly leading. I’m going to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money. We’re going to open up those libel laws. So when The New York Times writes a hit piece which is a total disgrace or when The Washington Post, which is there for other reasons, writes a hit piece, we can sue them and win money instead of having no chance of winning because they’re totally protected,” Trump said.
Out goes the First Amendment and it’s protections of a free press. Think he’s kidding? Nick Penzenstadler and Susan Page provide history and data to demonstrate Trump’s pattern.
An exclusive USA TODAY analysis of legal filings across the United States finds that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee and his businesses have been involved in at least 3,500 legal actions in federal and state courts during the past three decades. They range from skirmishes with casino patrons to million-dollar real estate suits to personal defamation lawsuits.
OK, so that’s 3,500 cases over 3 decades. How does it look in the present?
Just since he announced his candidacy a year ago, at least 70 new cases have been filed, about evenly divided between lawsuits filed by him and his companies and those filed against them. And the records review found at least 50 civil lawsuits remain open even as he moves toward claiming the nomination at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in seven weeks.
Trump likes to dismiss this kind of thing as simply the cost of doing business. But Penzenstadler and Page compared this record to the legal involvement for five top real-estate business executives and found that “Trump has been involved in more legal skirmishes than all five of the others — combined.”
Trump’s abuse of the court system is simply another example of the way he exposes himself as a narcissistic bully.
He sometimes responds to even small disputes with overwhelming legal force. He doesn’t hesitate to deploy his wealth and legal firepower against adversaries with limited resources, such as homeowners. He sometimes refuses to pay real estate brokers, lawyers and other vendors.
In other words, Trump represents everything the Republicans have claimed to be against when it comes to exploiting the court system. As a friend of mine used to say…”Now run and tell that.”