Back in November, the High Court of the United Kingdom ruled that the members of Parliament (as opposed to Prime Minister Theresa May) would have to be the ones to initiate Article 50, the action that would begin the UK’s process of leaving the EU. The ruling wasn’t that surprising: Parliament has had a lot of say over how the UK is governed for centuries, and it wouldn’t make sense to role it back now. But the decision set off a firestorm from pro-Brexit tabloids, with one going so far as to refer to the members of the High Court as “Enemies of the People.” This is a frightening way to speak (or write) about the highest courts in the land, which are supposed to be the only governmental institution above the messy sausage making of politics, being solely lead by the democratic principles of a given nation. Nowhere is this more true than in the United States, where numerous courts have the pivotal responsibility of ensuring that our lawmakers uphold our Constitution under all circumstances, including those that relate to personal safety. While one could debate how well the courts have handled this task (internment camps, anyone?), there isn’t any question that policy debates have no place in the courtroom. Which is why I was so disappointed to see this tweet from our president:
Yes, that is the president of the United States criticizing a court decision, made by weighing the argument for and against the ban, because he feels it gets in the way of his
dictatorial executive power. Now, Trump’s ban was questionable to begin with (why did it block migrants from Syria but not Saudi Arabia?), but the court gets final say in whether a government action is legal. The president may question the logic of the court, but he doesn’t have the right to complain about a court decision because the Constitution is inconvenient to him.
A couple weeks ago, I wrote a piece on how Trump’s rhetoric can be dangerous, and this is the perfect example of that. Whether he means it or not, Trump is more or less saying that he should be above the courts, and his most fanatical supporters are likely to agree. What Trump (and many of his supporters) are asking for is not that he be allowed to serve as our President, but as our Supreme Leader, above all laws in the land. Even if Trump isn’t being serious, his words will lead many to see the judge who blocked his ban as an “enemy of the people,” and it will lead individuals to start treating him as an enemy of the people for serving his country and doing his job.
Like it or not, the United States is a land of religious liberty, much more so than Europe, which is probably what has helped us avoid the radicalization that’s been seen in Europe. Furthermore, it’s pretty obvious that Trump’s ban had more to do with personal perceptions of citizens from certain countries than grounded evidence about said citizens. So, to any, Trump-conservatives who say liberals who don’t like these so-called “American” polices should move to another country, I recommend that they take their own advice. Personally, I will choose freedom over a false-sense of security.