Donald Trump believes that Judge Gonzalo Curiel's Mexican heritage creates an "inherent conflict of interest" in presiding over the Trump University case now pending in San Diego. According to the Wall Street Journal,
Mr. Trump said U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel had "an absolute conflict" in presiding over the litigation given that he was "of Mexican heritage" and a member of a Latino lawyers’ association. Mr. Trump said the background of the judge, who was born in Indiana to Mexican immigrants, was relevant because of his campaign stance against illegal immigration and his pledge to seal the southern U.S. border. "I’m building a wall. It’s an inherent conflict of interest," Mr. Trump said.
Trump's view of judicial disqualification has been rightly rejected by virtually every court to consider it since at least 1974, when Judge A. Leon Higginbotham (then on the district court in Philadelphia) encountered a recusal motion in a civil rights case. Judge Higginbotham's measured words have provided wise guidance to United States judges ever since, and they are well worth remembering now.