Yesterday, the Supreme Court finally resolved the long-running saga of Trump’s travel ban, igniting a wholly predictable firestorm of yee-haws from the Trump crowd and sky-screams from the Left. Trump’s defenders argue that the ban is not a “Muslim ban,” his detractors argue that it is.

Lost in that argument is the real crux of the matter: The Court’s job was to determine whether the President had the authority to do as he did, NOT whether it was a good idea, sound policy, or even advisable.

Like it or not, the President has a lot of power. Too much, IMO, ceded by a feckless Congress and a historically deferential court (see: Chevron). But, even if we protest the excesses, it remains that the office of the Presidency has the authority to do stuff we may not like. This doesn’t mean the Court can or should stop Trump from doing things legitimately within the power of the Presidency. The Legislature, on the other hand, does have such authority, if it chose to enact legislation and override his veto.

This case is but one of many examples of how a failure to understand how our system actually works, or possibly the deliberate choice not to, leads people to react in ways that are at odds with reality. We witnessed a lot of it during Obama’s tenure, when some of his supporters were demonstrably angry that he didn’t have god-emperor power, and we witness it under Trump’s tenure, with some of his detractors angry that he has any power.

I haven’t formed a full opinion on the travel ban, but I can recognize that the President is empowered to impose it, no matter whether the motive is rooted in bigotry or not. As Obama famously noted early in his tenure, elections have consequences.

To those who think that the Court should have gone the other way, and cast a ruling based on policy or “feelz” rather than statutory authority, be careful what you wish for and be careful of what precedents you set. Many of you cheered when Obama, contrary to his overt promise, expanded the power of the Presidency, and now you witness that precedent working against you in other issues. Demanding that the Court rule on “should he” rather than “can he” sets a precedent that will have you sky-screaming anew should Trump post replace one of the liberal justices with a conservative one.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.


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