Aaron Blake writes in the Washington Post:
“In a speech to law enforcement officials, Feb. 8, President Trump read federal law giving broad him broad authority to set immigration restrictions, adding, “a bad high school student would understand this.” (The Washington Post)
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is now weighing what to do with President Trump’s travel ban. And Trump did his best Wednesday to put his finger on the scales of justice.
Continuing a highly unusual days-long effort by a president, Trump issued a stark warning to the three-judge panel and, really, the entire court system: Run afoul of me, and you may just pay a price.
In a speech in front of law enforcement in Washington, Trump suggested to the three-judge panel that they would marginalize themselves politically if they decide the wrong way. Trump has said similar things about the judge who previously halted his travel ban — albeit after the decision had come down.
The comments were oblique, but Trump’s point was crystal clear.
“If these judges wanted to help the court in terms of respect for the court, they’d do what they should be doing,” Trump said, in a comment thick with subtext. “It’s so sad.”
He added: “I don’t ever want to call a court biased, so I won’t call it biased. But courts seem to be so political, and it would be so great for our justice system if they would read [the law] and do what’s right.”
If that isn’t a threat to marshal support against the American court system and fight it politically, I’m not sure what is. Trump is basically saying: That’s a nice reputation you’ve got there. It’d be a shame if something happened to it.”
So, if this is the contemptuous and disrespectful way Trump treats the Article III Courts, what does that say about the chances for fairness and due process in the U.S. Immigration Court System, where all the U.S. Immigration Judges and the Appellate Immigration Judges on the Board of Immigration Appeals work directly for Trump’s friend and enthusiastic supporter, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a well-established “immigration hard liner” who is reputed to be the “inspiration” behind Trump’s immigration enforcement program.
How long will an Immigration Judge who rules in favor of an individual who is one of Trump’s “removal priorities” or an Appellate Immigration Judge who speaks out in favor of due process in the face of Trump’s “move ’em all out” Executive Orders remain on the bench. Not long, I suspect. Is Attorney General Jeff Sessions really going to stand up for and protect a conscientious Immigration Judge who in good faith attempts to follow the law even when it conflicts with Trump’s edicts? Not likely.
The only question probably will be whether Article III Judges will stand up to Trump’s bullying and excesses and force Constitutional due process back into the system after Trump and Sessions drain it out. So far, the Article III Judiciary seems to be almost as unfazed by Trump’s bulling and threats as, say, the cast of SNL. But, it’s early in the game. And even Article III Judges eventually might find that they have to pick their fights. Will the due process rights of foreign nationals be one of them? Only time will tell. Stay tuned.