Winter is Coming


Whether or not you agree with any of President Trump’s actions during just his first week in office, it should now be evident that he fully intends to pursue many of the promises he made on the campaign trail. With the stroke of a pen and the power of his office, President Trump signed an executive order stipulating that “stricter vetting” and “travel bans” will be placed on those whom are traveling from or are nationals of seven predominately Muslim nations. The backlash against the order has been vociferous as well as swift.

These actions, regardless of their moral rectitude or lack thereof, raise serious, pressing constitutional questions that have the potential to define the United States for a generation. To what extent can the United States government, or simply the president, enforce strict immigration measures? Is it legal or even reasonable to specifically target Muslims in an effort to ensure national security? Does religious freedom apply to all faiths, or just to those that are less likely to make people frightened or uncomfortable?

The primary focus over the next few weeks, or months, or even years will be on the Trump administration, those who oppose it, and those who are clearly affected by the policies that will be implemented; however, the reach of these policies as well as there ability to be sustained as law will be determined not by catchy protest chants or by Sean Spicer’s increasingly uncomfortable press briefings, but by the legal judgments of the American judiciary. So far, the Trump administration has suffered temporary setbacks from federal judges who have ordered “temporary stays,” believing that the now labeled “Muslim Ban” deserves strict judicial scrutiny before it can be accepted as the law of the land. Before we know it, the American Civil Liberties Union and dozens of other advocacy group will be fighting in courtrooms across the country to overturn what they ardently believe to be a gross injustice inflicted upon Muslims and refugees. Eventually, the debate is likely to reach the steps of the nation’s highest court.

If these particular cases, or something similar, make their ostensibly inevitable journey to the Supreme Court, the United States could be subject to the most significant challenge to the constitution in decades. Notably, it will be interesting to see how the upcoming political battle involving Scalia’s former seat will eventually impact policies such as the “Muslim Ban.” President Trump plans to announce his nominee for the highest court in the land tomorrow night. As expected, the legality of the “Muslim Ban” as well as other constitutional issues will revolve closely around whomever is picked.

Now, although throughout this post I have tried, for better or for worse, to be largely impartial in processing the complicated times that lie ahead, I would like to speak to what this “Muslim Ban” means not only as a constitutional challenge, but as an American one: If this order and all or most of its components are allowed to survive and continue, it will be impossible to say that the United States is a nation of immigrants; it will be impossible to say that the United States is a nation of “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free”; it will, most tragically, be impossible to say that we are a nation of core and reliable constitutional principles. The establishment clause and the first amendment are clear, as are the characteristics of religious tolerance and a devotion to liberty that supposedly make our nation supreme in the eyes of the world, as well as ourselves. If these bedrock laws and essential principles are not unequivocally adhered to, or even worse overturned, then it will be easy to say that they never truly existed in the first place.

Peyton Beal




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4 Responses to Winter is Coming

  1. amsturdam says:

    Hello Peyton,
    I agree with the notion that no one should be barred from this country simply because of their religious beliefs. Freedom of religion is a principle that is within our constitution and one that we should stand by. Despite this I would argue that these people are not being banned because they are Muslim. The ban is being placed on countries that are deemed “high risk” areas when it comes to terrorism. In fact, if you look at the top 5 countries with the largest Muslim populations none of them are affected by the ban. I would say that the ban isn’t being placed as a form of discrimination towards Muslim’s but as a form of national security.

    • bealpeyton says:

      Well, to challenge your claim that the order is not a “Muslim Ban,” I’ll just go through a few things and then I suppose anyone can decide for themselves.
      Firstly, we can look at the abundance of evidence leading up to the order, such as how President Trump repeatedly stated that there had to be, temporarily or not, a ban on Muslims entering the country. Additionally, Trump even went as far as to say that a registry of Muslims may be necessary, in the name of protecting American security.

      Here is a video, by political analyst and scholar Samantha Bee, that makes the intentions of the order quite clear:

      Also, there is a CNN video of a Trump spokesman making it undeniably clear that the order aims to prevent Muslims from entering or even staying in the country:

      If that is not persuadable enough to make you think that there is, or at least was, some intent to specifically target, exclude, and even persecute Muslims based on their religion, I think the intentions are made clear by this video (3 minute mark):

      Now, let’s look at the facts surrounding the countries that were selected, the order itself, as well as the alleged threat to national security. The order suspends the entry of refugees into the United States for 120 days, and indefinitely for Syrian refugees. Additionally, the “not ban” bans travel into the United States from seven Muslim majority nations, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia and Libya.

      There are a few aspects of the not ban that can make a person question its justification:
      Purportedly, the not ban is just about geography and not religion, but the order stipulates that religious minorities, mainly Christians, are able to gain exemptions under the not ban. Purportedly the not ban aims to make us safer from attacks like “9/11,” but all of those responsible for that devastating attack were not linked to any of the countries that are part of the not ban. Lastly, the not ban aims to prevent Americans from being killed by terrorism, but zero Americans have been killed by refugees since 1980, Of the Americans who have died in terrorist attacks, none have been killed by refugees, and none have been killed by citizens from the countries named in the not ban. Here is support of these facts:
      Overall, you are probably more likely to be killed by an asteroid, compared to a refugee caused terrorist attack.

      If you believe that, somehow, that there is not a “thorough enough process” for refugees entering the United States, this New York Times’ piece outlines the current procedure that is, apparently to some, far too lenient on refugees:

      Lastly, I’d like to provide a comparison that makes the argument of “it’s not a ban of Muslims because not all Muslims are explicitly banned, yet,” a little absurd.
      If, say, a series of laws were passed that stripped the voting rights of thousands of African Americans in a state or county, would it be reasonable to claim, “well, gosh golly gee, it’s a shame those are the people being negatively affected, but you cannot say the laws are motivated by race because there are still some African Americans who have the right to vote.” I use this comparison because it is something that is currently happening on a national scale in an unjustifiable effort to “prevent voter fraud.”

      When it comes to issues of this magnitude, we might as well call things what they are and then go from there.

  2. morgandick says:

    First of all I want to give you a shout out for tackling the Executive Order in your blog post. I too wrote a blog this week and this was of course the first thing my mind jumped too, but I didn’t even know where to start (especially with ignoring my own personal bias). Like you said yourself, there are multiple facets of American tradition, national security, public opinion, and the overall legality of the order to think about when deciding on it’s constitutionality. This post made me think back to the point you made in class regarding how justices have the ability to make a judgment based on a political belief and then in their opinion find something in the constitution to support their politics. I have to think the Executive Branch is doing something similar with the ban. Although a specific religion is not banned, this does target Muslims in the form of banning refugees, immigrants and even green card holders from predominately Muslim nations. So I suppose my question is, both justices and the Executive take an oath the “uphold and defend the Constitution” why do we expect one to be impartial, yet the other can rely on their personal judgment? The “double-standard” is troubling for me. Thank you for your post, I really enjoyed reading it!

  3. mspivey97 says:

    I really enjoyed your post! Your last paragraph touched on something that I really feel hasn’t been discussed enough in this debate, and that’s the fact that this EO certainly seems to challenge the spirit of the 1st Amendment and the idea of religious liberty, even if it ends up being ruled legal. Another thing that troubles me about the order is the confusing way that it was written and vetted. It appears that Trump didn’t consult with his lawyers or the relevant Cabinet officials before signing the EO. If this becomes a trend with Trump’s orders, it will be interesting to see how much deference he will receive from the Courts in enforcing them. Yet another reason to be interested in this upcoming SCOTUS confirmation process! Gorsuch has a history of giving less rope to the executive when it comes to interpreting laws passed by Congress. Perhaps he’ll rein in broad enforcement of executive orders as well.


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