Paul Mirengoff frequently refers to “our robed masters” in the federal judiciary. Yesterday our robed master Bates of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia administered the latest in a series of legal defeats to the Trump administration’s effort to rescind the Obama administration’s unconstitutional program to regularize illegal immigrants by executive decree.
The New York Times’s Miriam Jordan gives an account of the ruling in “U.S. Must Keep DACA and Accept New Applications, Federal Judge Rules.” Our robed master Bates based his decision on the inadequacy of the administration’s conclusion that Obama’s decree was unlawful, but he kindly afforded Trump one more chance to explain. As Jordan puts it: “The judge stayed his decision for 90 days and gave the Department of Homeland Security, which administers the program, the opportunity to better explain its reasoning for canceling it. If the department fails to do so, it ‘must accept and process new as well as renewal DACA applications,’ Judge Bates said in the decision.”
The very first joke Jonathan Swift inserts into chapter 1 of Gulliver’s Travels plays on the name of James Bates, the physician whom Gulliver served as a bound apprentice. Swift warms up to the joke with several variations and near misses: “Mr. James Bates,” “Mr. Bates,” “my good master, Mr. Bates,” and “Mr. Bates, my master.” In the third paragraph Gulliver finally renders it “my good master Bates.”
I can’t help but think of Gulliver and his good master when reading Judge Bates’s memorandum opinion, posted online in PDF here and embedded below via (Scribd). While the Bates joke is Swift’s first in the text of chapter 1, Judge Bates’s joke takes its place in a long line brought to us by our robed masters, and not just on DACA. On the DACA version of the joke, see Josh Blackman’s January 2018 NR column “A ludicrous ruling that Trump can’t end DACA.”