Several Republican lawmakers lambasted Chief Justice John Roberts on Thursday, criticizing the Supreme Court’s top member for issuing an opinion earlier in the day blocking the Trump administration’s effort to end an Obama-era program that protects hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought to the US as children from deportation.
Roberts, a conservative justice who was nominated to the bench by President George W. Bush, sided with the court’s four liberal members to preserve Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an eight-year-old program that allows young immigrants work authorization and temporary protection from deportation. The opinion, penned by the chief justice, maintained that the administration did not follow a “procedural requirement that it provide a reasoned explanation” for its decision in 2017 to phase out the program.
“John Roberts again postures as a Solomon who will save our institutions from political controversy and accountability,” Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas said in a blistering statement following the ruling.
“If the Chief Justice believes his political judgment is so exquisite, I invite him to resign, travel to Iowa, and get elected. I suspect voters will find his strange views no more compelling than do the principled justices on the Court.”
Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, similarly attacked Roberts, criticizing him for once again siding with the liberal justices.
“First, Obamacare. Now, DACA. What’s next? Our second amendment gun rights?” Jordan wrote in a tweet, referring to Roberts’ decision to side with the court’s liberal members in 2012 to uphold the Affordable Care Act in a decision he also penned.
Jordan said in a statement later Thursday that Roberts was “convoluting the law to appease the DC establishment.”
Meanwhile, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas called Roberts’ decision “lawless” and “contrary to the judicial oath that each of the nine justices has taken.”
The three Republican lawmakers are among the more conservative members of Congress who often follow President Donald Trump’s lead, and the comments suggest a deep displeasure among members of the party with the decision, which comes as a blow to Trump just months before the November election. Though Trump did not publicly criticize Roberts or any other justices by name following the ruling, he blasted the majority opinion in a series of tweets Thursday morning as “politically charged” and said that it “tell(s) you only one thing, we need NEW JUSTICES of the Supreme Court.”
But the decision from the court wasn’t met with harsh criticism from all Republican members of Congress – some simply called for a “legislative solution” to immigration in the wake of the opinion.
“I believe the Supreme Court has thrust upon us a unique moment and opportunity,” Sen. John Cornyn said. “We need to take action and pass legislation that will unequivocally allow these young men and women to stay in the only home, in the only country, they’ve known,” the Texas Republican said.
Sen. Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican, echoed the sentiment, calling on Congress to “achieve a permanent result both for DACA recipients and border security” that both Congress and the President will agree on.
Sen. Martha McSally of Arizona, who faces a tough reelection fight in November against astronaut Mark Kelly, also called the ruling an “opportunity to do what is right and solve this issue with thoughtful legislation.”
And Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska avoided criticizing Roberts directly, instead telling reporters that she’s “not going to say that Judge Roberts is less of a conservative because of his opinion on this.”
CNN’s Manu Raju contributed to this report.