Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts offered a rebuke on Wednesday to President Trump's description of a judge who ruled against Trump's new migrant asylum policy as an "Obama judge."
“We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges,” Roberts said in a Wednesday statement provided to Fox News. “What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them."
Roberts added: “That independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for.”
U.S. District Judge Jon S. Tigar, who was nominated by President Obama in 2012 to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, issued a temporary restraining order late Monday against Trump's plan to refuse asylum to immigrants who cross the southern border illegally if they do not arrive at a port of entry.
"Whatever the scope of the President's authority, he may not rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden," Tiger wrote.
Robert’s comments come a day after Trump targeted the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and called the court a "disgrace" after a federal judge there issued a nationwide injunction against Trump’s newly announced restrictions on asylum claims.
Trump vowed to reporters that he would seek immediate action and said he was "going to put in a major complaint" about the appellate court, based in San Francisco. The president did not elaborate on what the complaint would be.
The president also broadly criticized the practice of federal judges bringing unilateral halts to executive branch policy, which has so far happened more than two dozen times under the Trump administration. Trump specifically cited the Ninth Circuit's injunction against his ban on travel from several Muslim-majority nations, which was ultimately ruled a constitutional exercise of presidential authority this year by the Supreme Court.
"You go to Ninth Circuit and it's a disgrace, and I'm going to put in a major complaint. Because you cannot win, if you're us, a case in the Ninth Circuit," Trump said. "Every case gets filed in the Ninth Circuit. ... We get beaten, and then we end up having to go to the Supreme Court -- like the travel ban and we won. We're gonna have to look at that."
He added: "That's not law. That's not what this country stands for."
Robert's comments mark one of the few times a Supreme Court justice has directly criticized the president over federal judges.
Roberts, along with several other justices, have publicly promoted the idea of an independent judiciary—free from partisan political attacks—in speeches and remarks since the Kavanaugh confirmation. Roberts himself reiterated the idea in a speech in Minnesota last month, saying the court preserves its independence “to the best of our abilities, whether times are calm or contentious.”
In a 2014 speech, he noted that "partisan rancor" in Congress "impedes their ability to carry out their functions."
"I don't want this to spill over and affect us," he added. "That's not the way we do business."
In the past, Roberts himself has been subject to attacks by Trump.
"Justice Roberts really let us down," Trump said in December 2015 after Robert's 2012 vote preserving Obamacare by upholding the law’s key funding provision.. "What he did with Obamacare was disgraceful, and I think he did that because he wanted to be popular inside the Beltway."
In other speeches, candidate Trump used words like "disappointment," and a "nightmare." He has cited Scalia and Justice Clarence Thomas as his favorites. Trump also has praised the now retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, but has not said anything about Roberts.
“The good thing about life tenure is (criticism) really doesn’t bother you very much,” Roberts said last month in his Minnesota remarks.
Fox News' Bill Mears and Gregg Re contributed to this report.