By Raoul Lowery Contreras
Are we seeing a rebellion by Republican judges protesting a President whose popularity polls are plunging 14 weeks before Election Day? Or merely warning shots about judicial independence to remind this President that our government operates with three independent and equal branches?
Three Supreme Court decisions gut-punched President Trump last-week. Two were immigration cases orchestrated by George W. Bush-appointed Chief Justice John Roberts, and one was a transgender issue decided by a Trump appointee, Justice Neil Gorsuch.
In the transgender case, the court concluded that Trump could not roll back President Obama’s legal protections for men and women who otherwise identify as the opposite gender of their birth. They cannot be discriminated against on the basis of sex or, sexual identification, the court ruled. Trump’s evangelical Christian base was shocked by this decision.
In the first of the immigration cases, the court denied an appeal of lower-court rulings upholding California’s “Sanctuary” law that prevents state employees from cooperating with federal officers to hold undocumented inmates in California prisons and jails for “the convenience of the government.”
The second immigration case was a rejection of an attempt by Trump to end Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that stopped deportation of people brought to the United States illegally when they were minor children. Despite overwhelming public support for the program, Trump is deeply anti-immigrant. Kowtowing to his base is why Trump insists on ending the program.
It appears that Chief Justice Roberts is exhausted — maybe disgusted — by the Trump’s administration’s executive orders. Roberts dropped the hammer on Trump’s swim against the popular DACA tide. Could it be that Roberts reads polls?
In the DACA case, Roberts wrote that a 1946 law passed by Congress carefully details the steps the government must take to end a program, illegally constituted or not. His majority opinion simply overrode Trump’s arguments by innocently pointing out that the administration didn’t follow the rules.
The court didn’t decide the legality of DACA. It appears that if President Trump had “dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s,” the court would have upheld him by a 5-4 vote and ICE would have run amok throwing 800,000 young, law-abiding people out of the United States. But Trump’s “Keystone Cops” administration gave Roberts what he needed to hammer the President.
The President has wide powers to “parole” people slated for deportation. A parole can be for one individual or thousands, as George H. W. Bush did when he allowed thousands of men, women and children related to people who became legal under President Reagan’s Immigration Reform Control Act of 1986 to stay in the United States. Presidents have extended mass parole to hundreds of thousands of Cubans without Congressional approval, and the only protesters were the Castro brothers.
The Supreme Court punted on the DACA issue itself. Nonetheless, it signaled to Trump that the United States is a nation of law — not royal decrees.
Trump ended the week with a failed rally in Tulsa that attracted an audience only third the size of the arena, the bungled firing of a key U.S. Attorney in New York, and more polls documenting him falling further behind Joe Biden.
Now the question is, will the people join Chief Justice Roberts and hammer Trump on Nov. 3?
Raoul Lowery Contreras is a Marine Corps veteran, political consultant and author of the new book White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPS) & Mexicans. His work has appeared in the New American News Service of the New York Times Syndicate.
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