Yes, resistance to the president's agenda continues to abound. You may have heard, but a California District Court Judge Jon Tigar dropped a restraining order on a presidential order which would have denied asylum for members of the so-called caravan of migrants on the U.S. southern border. It's not the first time this sort of thing has happened.
A judge stepped in the way of the president's Muslim travel ban.
A judge stepped in the way of the president's plan to withhold federal funding from sanctuary cities.
A judge stepped in the way of the approved development for East Loch Estates…wait, that's a local issue. I say, it's almost as if the Judicial Branch of government works the same at every level. But we all knew that (at least in theory). A judge can and should step in when the legal merits of the issue aren't 100 percent clear.
That said — and I'm getting a bit tired of saying it — judges aren't able to just step in when their personal feelings tell them to do so. In fact, back in September, I voiced my opinion on that very idea — regarding now Justice Brett Kavanaugh of all people. There always has to be a legally stable reason for a judge to do what they do. Just as I have to have a source to back up what I print in the (fantastically crafted) pages of the DCN, a judge has to have previous rulings or legal writings to support what they put down in the record (hint: that's what those stacks of intimidating books in lawyer's offices are full of).
Come now, the President of the United States of America and provide the following statement of opinion. That's a legal joke, don't worry about it. Lawyers will think it's funny…hopefully.
"This was an Obama judge," the president said of Tigar's order, according to the Associated Press. "And I'll tell you what, it's not going to happen like this anymore."
That statement was apparently so heavy that Supreme Court Justice John Roberts — appointed under President George W. Bush mind you — had to come out with a statement saying there is no such thing as an Obama judge, a statement with which the president later disatweeted (fingers crossed for Webster's word of 2019). Essentially, the claim here is that judges aren't to serve a particular presidential agenda. Given that their tenure is titanic compared to the eight-year maximum of any given modern day president, I'd say that's accurate. That being the case, it leaves me questioning why Republicans spoke so enthusiastically about the conservative judges President Trump would and did name to the Supreme Court. Yet, even newly-robed Justice Neil Gorsuch went against the conservative v. liberal grain in Sessions v. Dimaya soon after taking the bench.
I'd say it's pretty clear justices aren't the minions of the Oval Office, no matter who's sitting in it.
So, the question remains as to why Judge Tigar's block ticked off the president as it did. Well, he's made it pretty clear in the past he's convinced the caravan is carrying a number of criminals dangerous to the U.S. population. Shaky as that claim may be, that doesn't mean there aren't legitimate asylum seekers in the group, and this country has established laws as to how asylum is gained. In turn, that means staking a claim to asylum, even if crossing the border illegally, does grant a person certain protections. That's hard to swallow, but it's on the books.
"Whatever the scope of the president's authority, he may not rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden," Judge Tigar said, according to the BBC.
Of course, we'd like the situation to be simple. One of my own family members posted a thought to the effect of 'I don't lock my doors because I hate the people outside. I lock them because I love the people inside.' That seems a fair point, but it doesn't really encompass the whole of the metaphor. Sure, we lock our doors, but if a group of people outside start shouting for help, and then walk toward your door, and then jiggle the handle, and then ring the bell, and then start looking for another way in, our response won't be so simple. We like things to be simple. We like things to be cut and dry, which is why we relegate things to the courts — to people like Justice Ginsberg and Kavanaugh or to people like Tigar or Iowa Third District Court Judge Tod Deck — because they know what the law says.
And Tigar says the president's order seems to be in conflict with what's already on the books (the big, intimidating ones). He might be wrong, but that's why that issue has to be examined in court. So it's not just personal feelings here, it's Congress. And, if you recall, Congress represents us. This is because of what We the People put in place. If the Trump administration wins the case, those big, intimidating books in the law offices will be updated, and new legal precedents will be on the books, but until then, the discussion needs to unfold.
But not necessarily around your Thanksgiving dinner table. Tensions are high enough during the holidays already.