Trump was wrong to try to appease courts on entry ban

Is anyone really surprised that an Obama-appointed federal judge imposed an injunction on President Trump's second attempt at a modified travel ban?

After Trump's first entry ban was blocked, Trump's administration spent more than a month coming up with an alternative that might please the court.  He consulted with legal experts to write the best provisions that wouldn't be struck down.

And guess what!  We get the same result.

What comes next?  An appeal to a three-judge panel on the far-left Ninth Circuit, who will probably affirm the injunction?  An en banc appeal to the full Ninth Circuit, which will possibly do the same?  And how about an appeal after that to the Supreme Court, which, with Neil Gorsuch presumably on the Court, might by the slimmest of margins uphold Trump's very modest executive order...or might not?

It reminds me of those famous lines in the movie War Games, when the computer says, "A strange game.  The only winning move is not to play."

The president has "plenary power" over national security policy.  Previous presidents, like Obama, restricted entry from individual countries without anyone complaining.  When President Trump's first executive order was struck down, that was clearly a power-grab by the judiciary of the executive branch's power.  His first order was so moderate (only including seven countries, only for a limited period of time) that I knew then that no revised order would satisfy activist judges.

And yet Trump played their game, wasting precious time and leaving our borders open for over a month, and what has it gotten him?  Nothing.

The proper course of action would have been to assert that the courts have overstepped their authority and for President Trump to announce that he is going to use his constitutional authority to enforce his executive order.  This will be said to provoke a "constitutional crisis," but to be clear, it is the courts that have created this crisis.  Sadly enough, President Trump has only deepened it by acquiescing to the court's authority in this matter.  He is cooperating in making national security policy subordinate to the whims of every federal district court judge in the country.

President Trump said this latest ruling "makes us look weak," but really, it makes President Trump and the executive branch look weak – to meekly accept, for a second time, the overriding of their national security powers, this time because of one man wearing a black robe over a flower shirt in Honolulu.

To get serious on national security, President Trump is going to have to write much tougher executive orders than this.  How is he going to bar refugees from ISIS-infested Muslim countries if he kowtows to the courts?  How is he going to build a border wall if the courts tie him up in knots?  How will he crack down on sanctuary cities if the courts order him to continue funding them?

The answer is, he won't be able to.  I hope at some point that President Trump will figure this out for himself, because if he doesn't, America is going to be in a very insecure position.

Ed Straker is the senior writer at

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