District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, whose name likely sounds familiar, will hear a case brought against President Donald Trump's favorite pet project: the border wall.
This is the same judge that Trump disparaged as a "Mexican" who could not be impartial as he presided over a class action lawsuit against Trump University due to the fact that then-candidate Trump wanted to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Curiel was born in Indiana.
District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who was targeted by the President while he was the judge of a class-action lawsuit against the President’s now-defunct Trump University, will on Friday hear the case brought by the state of California, some environmental groups and representative Raul Grijalva, Arizona. It challenges waivers that were given to the federal branch more than 10 years ago to bypass some federal and state laws for border security.
Former Department of Homeland Security lawyer Andrew Gordon said if the court rules against the Trump administration, it could significantly delay plans for the wall, even if the ruling is later overturned.
But it is unclear how likely a ruling against Trump could be, given that Congress provided the federal government waivers to bypass some federal and state laws in the name of securing U.S. borders.
Brian Segee, a lawyer with the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the plaintiffs, told McClatchy that a key debate will be whether Congress meant to waive these laws into the distant future or only for specific projects ongoing at the time the waivers were issued.
This marks the second time a Trump initiative has found its way to Curiel's court - the first time during the 2016 presidential election, when Trump seemingly went out of his way to discredit the judge:
Perhaps most jarring was Trump’s continued use of Curiel’s ethnicity as a means to attack the federal judge’s impartiality. Trump falsely asserted that Curiel was a “Mexican,” – Curiel was born in Indiana – and other times said that he was “Hispanic” and “Spanish”, seemingly as an attempt to argue that the judge was biased because of Trump’s sharply conservative immigration ideas, including of course, the wall proposal.
“Look, he’s proud of his heritage, OK? I’m building a wall,” Trump said of Curiel in June 2016 to CNN anchor Jake Tapper. “He’s a Mexican. We’re building a wall between here and Mexico.”