Former chief justice of the High Court Robert French took aim at US President Donald Trump in a speech on the rule of law, given on Friday night. French’s lecture at an event hosted by the Victoria Law Foundation included French taking apart Trump’s tweet responding to a decision upholding the legal stay on his travel ban on seven predominantly Muslim countries. On February 4, Trump tweeted: “The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!”

“The President’s statement could not be dignified as ‘criticism’ of a judicial decision. It was rather a content-free coupling of epithets calculated to mitigate the political embarrassment caused by the ruling by suggesting that it and the ‘so-called judge’ somehow lacked legitimacy,” Lawyers Weekly reports French said.

“Such remarks may be seen as calculated to undermine respect for the rule of law,” French told those present. He said it had never been more important for society to understand how the rule of law framework had been developed.

“The spaces left by lack of awareness and misunderstanding are all too readily filled by snake oil salesmen coming in from the hinterland of our civil and political discourses.”

Trump has been called many things by many people, but a snake oil salesman from someone as eminent as French is new.

Peter Fray

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