It’s a sad day when federal court rulings are necessary to save people from the president.
Get used to it. This will be the United States during the administration of Donald Trump. Be grateful that our system of checks and balances allows for this sort of intervention. The next person who might need protection could be you.
On Wednesday, a federal judge in Hawaii performed the legal equivalent of standing up, armed with the Constitution, as an ally for Muslims and refugees. Trump’s ploy to block the visas of people traveling to the U.S. from six predominantly Muslim countries and to temporarily halt the migration of refugees altogether, just hit a larger roadblock.
By extending his initial restraining order, U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson slammed Trump’s plot to punish whole groups of Muslims for the deeds of Islamist extremists. The legal equivalent of a constitutional checkmate has been moved into place.
The ruling from Hawaii extends nationwide and joins efforts in other states to stop the Trump insanity toward immigrants – or at least the madness involved in the executive order that this ruling questions.
Trump tried to initiate a travel ban for people arriving to the U.S. from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. In addition, he wanted to stop the entry of refugees altogether for a period of 120 days. This was the second iteration of this executive order, following a first attempt that included Iraq in the initial list and also barred people with legal permanent status from traveling from the list of countries.
The hubris of that first order showed shocking heedlessness of how many people would be affected and ignorance of the depth of their legitimate ties to family and work in the U.S.
Leaders in the U.S. military, in particular, went ballistic when they learned that our Iraqi brethren in the fight against ISIS would be barred from entering the U.S., simply because their commander-in-chief has so little understanding of or concern about our alliances.
This is a legal fight that is likely to continue to the U.S. Supreme Court. And, as much as the Hawaii ruling is a victory, much real damage has been done.
Colleges and universities across the nation are reporting declines in enrollment of foreign students. Businesses are reporting difficulty in recruiting foreign-born talent.
Attacks on mosques and Muslims, as well as those who are perceived as such, are increasing. The Council on American-Islamic Relations, CAIR, notes a near doubling of vandalism to mosques in the first three months of this year over the same period last year. The worst among us, racists and nativists alike, appear to be emboldened by the atmosphere nurtured by the president.
The courts have cited Trump’s words as proof of his intent. During the campaign, for example, he promised a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims from entering the U.S.” Then there is the conversation in which, as president, he asked for help drafting a “watered down” order that would accomplish this objective without triggering a court rebuke.
Hawaii’s Attorney General Douglas Chin lobbed this fitting comment: “We cannot fault the president for being politically incorrect, but we do fault him for being constitutionally incorrect.”
Not surprisingly, Trump complains of “judicial overreach.” He will not back off. It’s not his brand.
As Celinda Lake, a longtime Democratic strategist, once commented, Trump not only bites back when he feels attacked; he escalates the level of assault. It’s a classic profile of an abusive personality.
Going after Muslims was a hallmark of his campaign. He made a promise to his most ardent supporters to deliver a bit of human flesh. He will do everything in his power — including abusing the Constitution — to please them.
But, as the court rulings are beginning to show, a person can’t hide intent when it comes from such a dark place. The Constitution will likely, eventually, stop much of the Trump agenda. His own words, delivered with arrogance and cruelty, may well be his undoing.
Reach Mary Sanchez at firstname.lastname@example.org.