I’m Calling It

The USA is officially in a Constitutional crisis.

In case you’re a Breitbart reader: President Trump issued an executive order that bans immigration from seven countries, for the span of 90 days. This was ostensibly to protect the US from terrorism as what happened during 9/11, yet mysteriously didn’t ban people from the countries behind 9/11, and double-mysteriously didn’t ban people from countries where Trump has business ties. Worse, Trump doesn’t appear to have consulted with anyone about it, giving no heads-up it was coming and certainly not asking about the wording of it.

The result has been chaos.

The new rules blindsided people in transit and families waiting for them, and caused havoc for businesses with employees holding passports from the targeted nations and colleges with international students.

Pegah Rahmani, 25, waited at Washington’s Dulles airport for several hours for her grandparents, both Iranian citizens with U.S. green cards. “They weren’t treating them very well,” she said. Rahmani’s grandfather is 88 and legally blind. Her grandmother is 83 and recently had a stroke. They were released to loud cheers and cries.

Canadian citizens are being turned away, despite assurances from officials. Science is suffering because of it. Protests are already widespread and growing, families are being torn apart.

Late Saturday, though, it looked like there would be some reprieve.

A federal judge has granted a stay on deportations for people who arrived in the US with valid visas but were detained on entry, following President Donald Trump’s executive order to halt travel from seven Muslim-majority countries.

The stay is only a partial block to the broader executive order, with the judge stopping short of a broader ruling on its constitutionality. Nevertheless, it was an early, significant blow to the new administration. […]

“I think the government hasn’t had a full chance to think about this,” Donnelly told a packed courtroom.

This isn’t a full stay, but the judge signaled that Trump’s Executive Order was likely unconstitutional and said parts of it shouldn’t be enforced on a temporary basis.

And yet,

As the night wore on, it became increasingly clear that CBP was defying Brinkema’s ruling. Lawyers concluded that that meant someone was in contempt of court. The judge could theoretically send in federal law enforcement officers to force CBP to let the lawyers meet with the detainees. But sending in the U.S. Marshals—who are part of the Department of Justice—to take on Customs and Border Patrol—which is part of the Department of Homeland Security—would have been a bureaucratic clash of the titans. And, like everything else that night, it would have been unprecedented. It didn’t happen.

Though detainees were slowly being released, lawyers were disturbed that they couldn’t meet with them. What if CBP tried to coerce detainees into signing paperwork that could jeopardize their legal status? Release wasn’t enough. A federal agency was defying a federal judge, and no one was quite sure what to do.

Then at around 11:45 pm, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker showed up. [….]

“We see tonight what I believe is a clear violation of the Constitution,” he continued. “And so clearly tonight we have to commit ourselves to the longer fight. Clearly tonight, we have to commit ourselves to the cause of our country. Clearly tonight, we have to be determined to show this world what America is all about.” 

Asked by The Daily Beast what CBP officers had told him about why they wouldn’t let detainees see their lawyers. 

“They told me nothing, and it was unacceptable,” he said. “I believe it’s a Constitutional crisis, where the executive branch is not abiding by the law.” 

The Executive Branch is not respecting the Judicial Branch. Trump shows no sign of backing down, either.

‏@realDonaldTrump (Donald J. Trump)

Somebody with aptitude and conviction should buy the FAKE NEWS and failing @nytimes and either run it correctly or let it fold with dignity!
7:00 AM – 29 Jan 2017

Our country needs strong borders and extreme vetting, NOW. Look what is happening all over Europe and, indeed, the world – a horrible mess!
7:08 AM – 29 Jan 2017

Christians in the Middle-East have been executed in large numbers. We cannot allow this horror to continue!
9:03 AM – 29 Jan 2017

The closest historical similarity I can find was when Harry Truman decided to take control of a number of steel mills in 1952 during wartime. Back then, the Judiciary said it was unconstitutional… barely. Either the rule of law goes, or he does, and so far he’s got the support of key Republicans.

This is a full-blown crisis. And it comes a mere eight days after Trump came into power.

[HJH 2017-01-29: Extended a quote. Also, someone else who called it before I did.]


  1. says

    I’m reminded of the “revolt of the judges” during the Fronde, which was one of the revolutions that led up to the “big one” French Revolution. The situation was interesting: the king could order judges to try someone, find them guilty, and send them to the Bastille. And, as the situation began to come apart, the king began ordering LOTS of people sent to the courts to be tried and found guilty. The judges responded by being unreachable for comment, then refusing to hold trials. Basically, they did a denial of service attack against their own court system – pretty clever.

    I agree with you that constitutional crises are a milestone on a path to … something.