‘Marker of Shame’ – Critics Warn of History’s Judgment as Trump, McConnel Celebrate Travel Ban Win
A Victory For Trump, A Loss for Freedom?
President Donald Trump won a huge victory from the Supreme Court today, which upheld the latest version of his controversial Muslim travel ban. Lower courts had previously struck down Trump’s ban, in various forms, which was implemented during the first week of the Trump presidency.
In the 5-4 ruling, the conservative majority of the court held that the president has Authority to restrict immigration from specific Nations on National Security grounds. That majority was rounded out by Justice Gorsuch, who was appointed by Trump after Republicans engaged in historically unprecedented obstruction to block former President Obama’s opportunity to nominate his choice of Judge, in accordance with his Constitutional authority, and American tradition.
The obstruction of the nomination of Merick Garland by Obama was billed as simply partisan by Republicans. However it was led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of (R-KY), who swore publicly upon the election of America’s first black President to obstruct him at every turn. McConnell upheld that pledge he largely kept for the 8 years of Obama’s two terms. Today, upon this latest in a string of Supreme Court decisions critics decry as discriminatory on the basis of race, and now religion, McConnell trolled his critics by posting a photo of himself greeting Gorsuch to Twitter.
— Team Mitch (@Team_Mitch) June 26, 2018
McConnell’s tweet is a clear acknowledgement of the role he played in this moment in American history. A moment which the American Civil Liberties Union warned would be judged harshly by history.
BREAKING: SCOTUS has upheld Trump’s Muslim ban. This is not the first time the Court has been wrong, or has allowed official racism and xenophobia to continue rather than standing up to it.
History has its eyes on us — and will judge today’s decision harshly. #NoMuslimBanEver
— ACLU (@ACLU) June 26, 2018
President Trump, known for trolling Twitter on a daily basis, also celebrated the win on Twitter. With a nearly all caps post which, given the presidents typical posting style, was surprisingly devoid of vitriol, he trumpeted:
SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS TRUMP TRAVEL BAN. Wow!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 26, 2018
The two sitting members of Congress of the Muslim faith, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), and Rep. André Carson (D-IN) both slammed the decision as contrary to America’s historic ideals that all men are created equal, and deserve religious freedom.
“Today’s decision undermines the core value of religious tolerance on which America was founded. I am deeply disappointed that this ruling gives legitimacy to discrimination and Islamaphobia,” Ellison said. In another statement, Ellison also said, “today’s ruling is unjust. Like the Korematsu decision that upheld Japanese internment camps or Plessy v. Ferguson that established ‘separate but equal,’ this decision will someday serve as a marker of shame,”
The ACLU also recalled the historic error of the Japanese internment camps, which are also currently in the news presently in comparison to the detention centers where Latino immigrants are being held, and where parents have been separated from their children by Trump policy. Although intense public pressure, and the failure of Trump’s efforts to falsely shift blame to Democrats led to Trump capitulating on family separation, issuing an executive order curtailing his own policy, thousands of children remain separated from their families, and experts have said it is doubtful many will ever be reunited.
In 1944, the Supreme Court allowed the US government to imprison Japanese Americans solely because of their national origin and ethnicity, based on empty claims of national security.
It’s one of the most shameful chapters of US history, and today’s decision now joins it.
— ACLU (@ACLU) June 26, 2018
Today's Supreme Court ruling repeats the mistakes of the Korematsu decision. It takes the government lawyers' flimsy national security excuse for the ban at face value, instead of taking seriously the president's own explanation for his actions.
— ACLU (@ACLU) June 26, 2018
“This decision is about presidential authority,” Carson warned, “NOT an affirmation of the President’s bigoted policy or history of targeting immigrants. His policy continues to hurt countless families across our country. Congress must vote to strike down this affront to our values as Americans,”
To congressman Carter’s point about the expansion of executive power inherent in this decision, there is perhaps reason for concern. Such power, given to a President who has expressed admiration of strongman dictators, aligned himself with neo-nationalists, is disconcerting. Especially when one considers that such behavior by Trump continues to this day. Even today, Trump called Turkey’s President Erdogan, whose history of strongman tactics includes using force against demonstrators, even on US soil, to congratulate him on a re-election that came with sweeping new powers and eliminates the Prime Minister position, and with it, a check on Erdogan’s power. On the same day as his own power was substantially increased by the Supreme Court.
Chief Justice John Roberts addressed that fact in his ruling, writing that “the president of the United States possesses an extraordinary power to speak to his fellow citizens and on their behalf.”
In a move historic scholars of the future are likely to damn for ignoring or tacitly condoning the damage this ruling does to racial and religious minorities, Roberts also sidestepped the arguments of plaintiffs that upholding a ban on people from specific nations, of any given ethnic or religious majority, particularly given the President’s vitriol towards those groups, would “strike at fundamental standards of respect and tolerance, in violation of our constitutional tradition.” To that, Roberts countered, “the issue before us is not whether to denounce the statements. It is instead the significance of those statements in reviewing a presidential directive, neutral on its face, addressing a matter within the core of executive responsibility.”
Of course the decision being as controversial as the policy itself, critics are certainly right about one thing: the Supreme Court may have the final say in the judicial system, but history always holds the final judgment. If critics, including myself, are correct, that judgment will not be kind to Trump, McConnell and his fellow congressional Republicans, or to Roberts, or the Roberts court, particularly it’s conservative appointees. Perhaps, someday, this decision may even be a deciding factor in a move away from lifetime partisan appointment of Supreme Court justices, altogether. Time will tell.
Featured image via Twitter.
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