Late last week, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck a major blow to President Trump’s immigration agenda when they upheld a suspension of his controversial travel ban. Since the ruling, President Trump made his views widely known, calling the decision “disgraceful” and a “COURT BREAKDOWN”:
This story will continue to play out in the months ahead as the Trump administration weighs their options for reinstating the travel ban.
This case is likely the first of many disputes between the administration and the expansive American judiciary, which is not unprecedented. (President Obama faced a mix of favorable and unfavorable court rulings during his tenure, and he expressed his satisfaction or dissatisfaction often.)
What is unusual is President Trump’s vocal reaction to these decisions. So-called judges, he argues, are stepping outside their authority in a politically-motivated effort to thwart him. President Trump seems to view judges much like his political opponents. Just as he did with politicians “Little Marco,” “Crooked Hillary,” or “Lyin’ Ted”, President Trump is willing to do battle with judges outside of court.
The power of the judicial branch mostly depends on the executive branch’s compliance with its orders. The judiciary has no physical enforcement mechanism. A president’s opinion of the judiciary is significant because it signals their willingness to comply with this system of checks and balances.
Mr. Trump was intimately familiar with and seemed fond of the court system before he became president. He sued and was sued thousands of times. He judged other celebrities on a reality show. He loves judging stuff on Twitter.
If we stipulate that the President’s tweets reflect his mood and thinking, recent tweets show that his patience for judicial review may be wearing thin. Neil Gorsuch, his Supreme Court nominee, called his comments in this tweet “demoralizing” and “disheartening”:
However, the operative words here may not be “so-called judge.” Those words got a lot of attention. But the phrase “will be overturned!” may be equally significant to understanding the President’s thinking.
Including this phrase, perhaps unintentionally considering the administration’s new position, shows a basic level of respect for the judicial process.
President Trump, who sincerely believes this travel ban is necessary to protect Americans and that a silent majority of Americans support it, has not ordered law enforcement to disobey the court ruling. Judicial review lives to see another day.
Still, fans of the judiciary may want the President to call his sister.