Monday, December 4, 2017

The Supreme Court Allows the Travel Ban to Go Forward: Because Setting Immigration Policy is Part of what the Government is Supposed to Do

Donald Trump ran for President of the United States as an immigration hardliner. He promised his supporters he would crack down on all types of immigration to the fullest extent of the law. Immigration is almost entirely within the purview of the federal government, so promising to crack down in immigration is actually something the President of the United States can promise.
Nevertheless, during the election, multiple people said that a Trump Presidency would not change the status quo very much because of “checks and balances.”

With Republicans in charge of congress, by “checks and balances, they meant that the courts would provide a check on Trump’s most extreme impulses. This shows a fundamental misunderstanding about what the courts are supposed to do.

Most importantly, it shows a dangerous misunderstanding of what the Supreme Court does: settle disputes between Federal Appellate Courts and interpret the Constitution. It is not the Supreme Court’s job to declare a President’s policy to be too extreme or too radical, it’s job is to adjudicate whether or not the Constitution of the prohibits the President from enacting that policy. And the President’s powers on immigration under the Constitution and under Federal law are sweeping.
Today, the Supreme Court temporary upheld Trump’s revised travel ban while the legal challenges against it proceed in the lower courts (read the decision here.) This does not mean that the ban will not be overturned as unconstitutional once the two cases against it reach the Supreme Court, merely that the President is given deference to enact laws under the powers which he has been granted by the Constitution until the courts have had an opportunity to weigh the issue. The Constitutionality of the travel ban is very much unclear, but I personally believe it is probably Constitution. The President has broad powers to restrict immigration.

Trump was hired by American voters to do a job: limit immigration, particularly from Muslim countries, and this is what his travel ban is trying to accomplish. I strenuously disagree with the travel ban. I think it is a moral and political abomination. But we all knew what the stakes were in this election. Voting matters — if you are a US citizen, your vote in 2018 will be the much-needed check on the President’s powers.