When President Obama’s audacious and indefensible extension on the DACA executive order in 2014 gave millions of illegal aliens blanket protection from deportation, Democrats were wildly supportive. “[The president] is doing what he can within his well-established constitutional authority,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) at the time. “The president’s actions fall well within the clear constitutional and legal authority of his office, and the well-established precedent set by every president since Eisenhower,” then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) chimed in. Former president Bill Clinton was even more adamant about it. “As far as I can tell, every president in the modern era has issued some executive action on immigration. So, I imagine he’ll be on pretty firm legal ground,” he asserted.
Yet, these are many of the same Democrats who are so horrified today by President Trump’s use of his executive authority to deal with the very real crisis going on at our southern border. Executive action on immigration is only a problem, apparently, when a president is trying to secure borders rather than open them.
Thus we see Democratic governors and a Dem-led House of Representatives suing a sitting president in court over his use of the same executive powers they toasted Obama for using to a far greater degree. A congressional resolution was passed in March to terminate the president’s national emergency declaration; Trump immediately responded with his intention to veto the decision. The lawsuit claims that the president is “disregarding Congress” by trying to force funding for the Wall at the border by using his executive powers. Seeing that Democrats applaud a strong presidency only when one of their own is in the White House, it should be no surprise that they are willing to manipulate another branch of our government, the judicial, to serve their political purposes as well.
U.S. District Judge Trevor N. McFadden appears to doubt the legal standing of the attempt to block Trump from appropriating government spending to deal with his declared national emergency over our porous border. McFadden, who presides over this case, was hesitant to believe that federal courts should intervene over an “ugly dispute between the political branches” on border security, saying that the Dem-led House was in “unusual territory” with its lawsuit against the Trump administration.
The Justice Department, in defending the administration, noted that Congress itself authorized the president to transfer government funds in two defense bills passed last fall. House attorney Douglas Letter mocked that argument by stating that those acts allowed the president to transfer funds only for “higher priority items, based on unforeseen military requirements.”
Democrats are essentially challenging Trump’s ability to treat the border crisis as a national emergency. While Judge McFadden may find that contention beyond the scope of the judicial branch, Dems have already had better luck with an Obama-appointed judge in another lawsuit against Trump.
Judge Haywood Gilliam of the notoriously left-leaning Ninth Circuit appeals court on May 24 predictably blocked a Pentagon transfer of $1 million in defense counterdrug funds for use in Wall construction. Judge Gilliam specifically used the same reasoning Letter utilized in stating the Democrats’ case in the House lawsuit. “Defendants’ argument that the need for the requested border barrier construction funding was ‘unforeseen’ cannot logically be squared with the Administration’s multiple requests for funding for exactly that purpose dating back to at least early 2018,” he wrote in his ruling. This judgment denies the president of the United States the right to declare a national emergency over something that he had previously identified as a problem that needed solving.
This harkens back to a statement Trump made when declaring his state of emergency in February. “I want to do it faster. I could do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it much faster,” Trump said at a White House press conference. It should be obvious to any unbiased observer that Trump was saying he didn’t need to declare a state of emergency to get the Wall legally built, but because the chaos on our southern border in fact is a genuine national emergency the matter needed to be expedited. Democrats and their media allies, though, immediately twisted the quote, with future litigation already on their minds.
“The president’s own explanation left little doubt that there’s no pressing ’emergency’ demanding unprecedented emergency action,” MSNBC’s Steve Benen wrote on Feb. 15. “Trump effectively admitted that he sees this as a matter of convenience: the American policymaking process would take time, and he’d ‘rather do it much faster.’ If you’re thinking these unscripted comments might be used against the White House in future litigation, you’re not alone.”
Suing Instead of Legislating
That a Ninth Circuit judge appointed by Obama would give judicial cover to this nakedly political viewpoint is not the least bit surprising. Trump himself foresaw this very eventuality when he issued his emergency declaration. “And they will sue us in the Ninth Circuit, even though it shouldn’t be there,” Trump accurately predicted in February. “And we will possibly get a bad ruling, and then we’ll get another bad ruling. And then we’ll end up in the Supreme Court, and hopefully we’ll get a fair shake. And we’ll win in the Supreme Court, just like the [travel] ban.”
It is a sad state of affairs that the president is resigned to the fact that Democrats will resort to lawfare to thwart his right to take action to defend the borders of the United States. It’s not just House Dems, either. Of the 16 states that have filed another suit against the administration over the Wall, 15 have Democrat governors, with the lone Republican being Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, a NeverTrumper and classic RINO who Bill Kristol is encouraging to run against Trump for the GOP nomination in 2020.
“To those members of Congress who question my authority to make our immigration system work better, or question the wisdom of me acting where Congress has failed, I have one answer: Pass a bill,” Obama defiantly uttered when issuing his DACA declaration. But as a Republican president uses executive authority to strengthen our border defenses, Democrats refuse to attempt to stop him via the use of specific legislation. Instead, they resort to reckless litigation and biased judges to weaponize the judicial branch against a president whose policies they do not like.
It takes special gall to actually abuse the powers of the presidency to shelter illegal aliens and then argue that another president is beyond the pale merely for trying to defend the citizens of this country via means that are in no way unprecedented. But leftists play a zero-sum game. Honesty, fairness, or holding consistent ideals do not come into play. Winning is all that matters. With that as their sole focus, the dire consequences to all Americans of a politicized judiciary do not bother them in the least.
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