A San Diego-based legal association is demanding presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump take back comments they consider “racist in nature.”
Trump has complained repeatedly about U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel who is handling the Trump University class-action lawsuit filed in San Diego.
"His persistent attacks on Judge Curiel are not only racist, but they provide an ominous portent of how Trump would use the power of the presidency to intimidate federal judges,” San Diego La Raza Lawyers Association (SDLRLA) President Luis O. Osuna said in a written statement released Wednesday.
In his appearance in the San Diego Convention Center, Trump spent more than 10 minutes complaining about Curiel.
“I have a judge who is a hater of Donald Trump, a hater,” Trump said.
He told thousands of supporters that the judge was biased against him, citing his Mexican heritage. Curiel was born in the U.S.
On Tuesday, top Republican leaders and donors denounced as racist and troubling his comments about a federal judge's ethnicity.
Soon after, in a lengthy statement, Trump said "it is unfortunate" his comments "have been misconstrued as a categorical attack against people of Mexican heritage."
Trump said in his statement, "I do not feel that one's heritage makes them incapable of being impartial," but said that he feels justified to question whether he is receiving a fair trial based on the ruling.
"Trump’s repeated accusations of Judge Curiel display an utter lack of understanding for the role we play as attorneys and judges sworn to follow the law and uphold the constitution," Osuna said.
"Such wielding of executive power poses a threat to all Americans, as it is an independent judiciary and a respect of the separation of powers mandated by the constitution that secures our civil liberties and freedom," he said.
Read Osuna's complete statement here.
Curiel is a member of SDLRLA, an organization with 300 members ranging from attorneys to judges to law students and other professionals.
“Contrary to what Trump has stated, we are not affiliated with the National Council of La Raza (NCLR),” Osuna said. However the association does provide a link to NCLR on its website along with other community groups that serve the Latino community.
Osuna called on bar associations across the U.S. to demand Trump retract his comments.