Monday, February 6, 2017

Checks and Balances

When Trump writes a book about his time as President, I suspect it will be called Everyone Who Disagrees with Me is Wrong, featuring a forward by Putin. In response to Judge James Robart's block of Trump's Muslim travel ban, Trump tweeted "The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!" Dean Obeidallah of CNN dissects everything wrong with that statement:
On Saturday morning, President Donald Trump may have unleashed his most bone-chilling tweet -- at least to those who believe the United States should not become a Trump-led dictatorship. And I don't make that comment simply to be provocative or without giving it a great deal of thought. Our democracy is far more fragile than some might grasp and Trump is engaging in a concerted effort to undermine the workings of it.

Let's be blunt, because the stakes demand it: An independent federal judiciary is our last, best hope at preventing Trump from violating the US Constitution and illegally grabbing power. And Trump has to understand that, hence his attempt to undermine it.

The President truly appears to be leading a master class in transforming the United States into a dictatorship. Trump -- and it's fair to assume it is by design -- has sought to undermine anyone or anything that tries to counter him.

It's frightening to think where this could lead. For example, when the United States Supreme Court ruled in the historic case of Brown v. Board of Education that racial segregation in our public schools was unconstitutional, it took then-President Dwight Eisenhower to implement that decision.

Arkansas Gov. Orval Faubus had refused to follow the Court's decision and instead surrounded an all-white high school in his state with National Guard troops to prevent its integration. Eisenhower responded by federalizing the Arkansas National Guard to enforce the Supreme Court's seminal decision and allow black students to attend the school.

Would Trump do the same if he had passionately disagreed with the Court's decision or would he simply ignore it while attacking the legitimacy of our judiciary, sparking a constitutional crisis? And would certain Trump-supporting federal agency heads, or even federal officers, refuse to follow court orders (or at least do it very slowly) because Trump has convinced them the federal judiciary's decisions cannot be trusted?
Since Trump took office, and especially with regard to this travel ban, people have been quoting the words on the Statue of Liberty: "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" But Judge Robart's block prompted artists Thea Sousa and Sam Machado to reference another important force in our country - justice:
Trump took an oath to preserve, protect, and defend our Constitution. But that oath isn't enough, and our founding fathers knew that; in their extraordinary genius, they set up a system of checks and balances, to keep any one branch of government from wielding too much power. Trump's executive order shows how little he cares about the words on the Status of Liberty, but this tweet is far worse: His attempt to delegitimize the judicial branch shows just how little he cares about our Constitution. And that is far more terrifying.

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