There are laws that we agree with, like those that protect our freedom as citizens to march, to peacefully protest, to worship freely and to keep and bear arms in our homes. And then there are laws that we believe to be morally bankrupt like those which once allowed for slaves, and kept women from having the right to vote. Those laws were eradicated. Wiped from the books, and changed to reflect the promise of America for all of her citizens, versus just some.
Whatever the case, in America the law is the law. And if we seek to change it, “We the People”, have that power vested squarely in us to do so. In America, we have three co-equal branches of government . The President or the Executive has the power to draft and execute “executive orders” that direct the federal agencies how to act on a certain issues or a set of policies. His (or someday her) powers come from the Constitution, Article II, and from statutory authority written by the Congress in the US Codes. The Congress is the legislative body. Whose power comes from Article I in the Constitution. And the Judiciary is the interpreter of the laws. Whose power is derived from Article III of the Constitution. These three equal branches of government were designed by our Founders to keep America free, safe, and just. It is the duty of “We the People”, however, to keep them all honest and accountable to us.
In this most present case of the “Trump Travel Ban” or some call it “Muslim Ban”. There are two issues that we need to be clear on beyond the noise, rancor and grandstanding. They are as follows:
- President Trump had the legal authority under Article II and U.S.C. 8 sec. 1151-1161 to issue the “travel ban” as he deemed appropriate within the confines of the law.
- Now former, Acting Attorney General Sally Yates had the legal duty as Attorney General (confirmed by the U.S. Senate) to uphold and defend the President’s order from legal challenges.
It is critical that we properly understand and assess what happened and how we got to the place we find ourselves right now as Americans on this issue. Sally Yates, may have found the law to be repugnant, offensive and morally wrong. That is her right as an American citizen. But as Attorney General she has a duty to advise the President if she feels that the law is problematic or illegal to reconsider, redraft, or remove. But she does not have the authority to issue a memo to other DOJ lawyers and tell them that DOJ will not enforce or rather defend such a law. That is why she was fired by the President last night and replaced with a new Acting Attorney General who will defend the President’s executive order from legal challenges as is his duty.
The Attorney General is the one cabinet member who must be “a political” he or she is the chief law enforcement officer in the nation. He must obey the law. And direct his agencies like the FBI, or Civil Rights Divisions to enforce the laws. Not make policy. That is the job of the Congress. And that is the job of the President. If a law is likely unjust or unconstitutional the courts hear the case, and determine whether or not they are Constitutional. That is America folks. That is our great system of checks and balances. That is how we have survived and dare I say thrived as a nation for over 240 years now. And it is how we will continue as the last great Republic on earth for another 240 years.
I do not agree with the way that this Travel “pause” or “ban” was enacted. I think it should have been coordinated first through the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense and other relevant agencies. I think they should have come out and briefed the public which would have brought clarity and comfort. And if our new President believes that there is a “clear and present danger” to the Republic he has a duty to inform us so that we understand his reasons for the ban. And, I think the President overstepped after firing Sally Yates to suggest she betrayed him or her country. Neither is true. They just disagreed on the Executive Order.
In the final analysis, knowledge is power. “We the People” are the protectors of American democracy. We are the line. We are the wall. We are the defenders of freedom. Not our elected leaders. They are beholden to us and our will. In the case of this travel ban, I too find it problematic from an ethical and moral imperative. I too am struggling with who America is and who we must become in a world of terrorism, ISIS, hatred of Christians, and moral non-absolutes. But, what I know for sure is that if we do not like something in our form of government our founders empowered us to change it. We have the power. We set the tone. We are the face of American ideals and values.