The federal courts are making a power grab early in President Trump's term. Trump's executive order, a temporary entry ban from seven dangerous countries, was modest in scope and had ample precedent: Barack Obama had temporarily stopped immigration from Iraq, and Jimmy Carter from Iran. Historically, the president has been given a wide latitude when it comes to matters of national security, and the decision of whom to let into our country is clearly a national security matter.
And yet Judge James Robart made a radical move to reopen our borders to all these people from chaotic, ISIS-infested places like Iraq, Yemen, and Syria, potentially putting American lives in danger. President Trump is appealing, but it will take a while for the appeal to wind its way through the Ninth Circuit and probably the Supreme Court.
Judge Robart's reason is totally nonsensical: that the people of Washington state and Minnesota will suffer if people from Sudan and Yemen aren't allowed to enter the country. The exact opposite is true.
That's why President Trump should label this decision an illegitimate, unconstitutional power grab and disregard it. He can continue to appeal it but make it clear that he is not going to comply with the restraining order, even temporarily.
Because, win or lose, the matter will not stop here. Trump's executive order is mild. He's going to have to issue a lot of much more substantive orders in the months to come. If Trump gives in to the politicized judiciary on this, they will smell blood in the water and challenge his later decisions.
Let's say Trump actually wants to have a permanent ban on refugees from Syria or Iraq, for security reasons. A court could overturn it on the same grounds. Suppose Trump wants to stop all refugees coming to America for a year. A court could actually force Trump to let 100,000 or more refugees in if Trump lets it. A court could stop Trump from doing enhanced vetting, claiming that it discriminates against Muslims from ISIS-infested countries. A court could also stop Trump's border wall, claiming that it would have a negative effect on a snail or a worm.
That's why Trump can't give in on his relatively limited executive order. If he does, he will give the courts a green light to keep America an open borders country.
Liberals will immediately claim that Trump is precipitating a constitutional crisis. But it is the courts that are precipitating such a crisis by overreaching and claiming power of the executive branch for their own. When Obama was president and he chose not to enforce immigration law, federal courts were fine with it (Arizona vs. US). But when Trump is president and he chooses more stringent regulations, suddenly the courts feel they should have veto power.
Courts don't have power to actually compel the executive to do anything. They can issue contempt citations, but Trump can ignore those as well if they are based on an illegal ruling. The only check, constitutionally speaking, on the president is impeachment by the Congress, and that will never happen.
Trump will take a lot of criticism for standing up to the courts, but this is what people elected him to do. If he stands up and makes it clear that the courts are engaged in an illegal power grab, and that he is acting to protect the country as he promised when elected, public opinion will turn against the courts, and they will be forced to back down.
Defying the courts is a confrontational strategy, but they have engaged in an unconstitutional power grab and need to be called out on it. At a time when Republicans control the House, the Senate, and the presidency, and still cannot put their own immigration controls in place, I think it is time to be confrontational. Otherwise, elections won't matter, and the media, the courts, and the bureaucracy will run the country into the ground regardless of who is elected to office.