US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts issued an extraordinary rebuke of Donald Trump on Wednesday after the president criticized a ruling he said was handed down by an "Obama judge."
"We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges," Roberts said in a statement to the Associated Press.
"What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them," Roberts said.
"That independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for," the chief justice added in the brief statement released on the eve of the Thanksgiving holiday.
Roberts' remarks were a rare public criticism of a sitting president by a Supreme Court chief justice.
The statement came one day after Trump criticized a federal judge who temporarily blocked the administration from denying asylum to people who enter the country illegally.
Trump issued a proclamation earlier this month saying that only people who enter the United States at official checkpoints -- as opposed to sneaking across the border -- can apply for asylum.
But US District Judge Jon Tigar in San Francisco issued a temporary restraining order against the Trump move, which comes as a caravan of Central American migrants is heading to the US southern border.
Trump lashed out at US District Court Judge Tigar's ruling on Tuesday, calling it a "disgrace."
"This was an Obama judge, and I'll tell you what, this is not going to happen anymore," Trump said. "People should not be allowed to immediately run to this very friendly circuit and file their case."
"We will win that case in the Supreme Court of the United States," Trump said.
- President 'may not rewrite' immigration laws -
Trump has repeatedly attacked the judiciary when cases have gone against him in the past but this was the first time that Roberts, a conservative jurist who was appointed to the nation's highest court by president George W. Bush, has responded to his criticisms.
During the 2016 presidential election campaign, Trump attacked the Mexican-American heritage of a judge who ruled against him in a case involving Trump University.
The US federal government consists of three branches -- the executive headed by the president, the legislative comprising the House of Representatives and Senate and the judicial made up of the courts.
Tigar wrote that the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 states that any foreigner who arrives in the United States, "whether or not at a designated port of arrival," may apply for asylum.
"The rule barring asylum for immigrants who enter the country outside a port of entry irreconcilably conflicts with the INA and the expressed intent of Congress," Tigar wrote.
"Whatever the scope of the president's authority, he may not rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden."
Critics of the Trump crackdown say that by restricting asylum seekers to border crossing points the government is effectively shutting the door on people who may truly be fleeing for their lives.
Trump's administration has argued that he has the executive power to curb immigration in the name of national security -- a power he invoked after taking office last year with a controversial ban on travelers from several mostly Muslim countries.
The final version of the order was upheld by the Supreme Court on June 26 after a protracted legal battle.