Update: The Judiciary Branch page of the White House website has now been reinstated with its text apparently unchanged.
Initially the restored page lacked a lead image and its caption — omitting the sentence: “Article III of the Constitution of the United States guarantees that every person accused of wrongdoing has the right to a fair trial before a competent judge and a jury of one’s peers.” But this has also now been restored.
It’s unclear exactly why the sub-page went AWOL from the White House website for around a week, although the likely explanation is the Trump administration taking over whitehouse.gov — and breaking some content during the digital transition process. (At the time of writing some in-page links still appear to be broken too.)
That said, as noted above, the content of the page itself does not appear to have been actively updated during the time the page was offline. Nor is it clear why only the judicial sub-page of the ‘Our government’ section of the website was affected.
Original story follows below…
Another eyebrow-raising change to the White House website under President Trump: it does not list nor provide details of the judiciary’s role in government the U.S. — naming only the Executive and Legislative branches, both of which are controlled by Republicans.
A page detailing the role of the judicial branch could be found on the website during President Obama‘s tenure. President George W Bush also had a (rather shorter) explainer. As did President Clinton, the first president to create a White House website all the way back in 1994.
The Trump administration apparently does not — at least, for now — believe the role of judges in the U.S.’ democracy merits a mention online.
The omission was spotted earlier by The Hill, which believes the page was removed the day after Trump’s inauguration, when a raft of other deletions were carried out.
Trying to manually access the following URL — https://www.whitehouse.gov/1600/judicial-branch — results in a generic holding page graphic with a note reads: “Thanks for your interest in this subject”, and: “Stay tuned as we continue to update whitehouse.gov”. So it’s possible the page will be reinstated in future. Update: The page has now been restored.
We’ve reached out to the Trump administration to ask for clarity about its intentions, and will update this post with any response.
Over the weekend the judiciary dealt a blow to the president after he had used an Executive Order to place a temporary ban on travel to the U.S. from several majority Muslim countries. A national stay was quickly granted against the order after the American Civil Liberties Union filed a legal challenge — illustrating how significant a check and balance the judiciary is in a functioning democracy.
Tweeting earlier today, Trump said he will announce his pick for the U.S. Supreme Court tomorrow — two days earlier than he had previously slated for the appointment.
A generous interpretation of the missing Judicial Branch page is that the administration is holding off in order to include the president’s pick for the Supreme Court on the page. Less generous interpretations for the removal of a link to the only independent branch of government are available.