Stephen Miller: Donald Trump and the Muslim Ban

One Sunday morning a few weeks ago, Stephen Miller (Senior Advisor to the President) leapt to the country’s attention when he appeared on numerous shows[1] defending President Trump’s executive order banning immigration (the “Muslim ban”). His comments ranged from unsubstantiated claims to downright scary and unconstitutional statements. In lambasting the judges who blocked the Muslim ban, he said, “In the end, the powers of the president of the United States will be re-affirmed.”[2] In his nationalist fervor, he declared, “One unelected judge in Seattle cannot remake laws for the entire country.” [3] With blind faith in Trump, he stated, “that the powers of the president to protect our country … will not be questioned,”[4] and that it was “judicial usurpation of the power. … We will fight it. And we will make sure that we take action to keep from happening in the future…”[5]

When I first heard those statements, I was overwhelmed with thoughts. Does he really expect President Trump to be above the law? Based on his responses that Sunday morning, he thinks so. Regardless of where you stand in the political arena, that attitude should bother you. Perhaps it should terrify you.

Miller as Senior Advisor to the President should know how the federal government was set up. I’m sure you remember from your government class that US Constitution set up three equally powerful branches for the federal government: Executive, Judicial and Legislative. Regarding the Judicial, US Constitution Article III states: “The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority.”[6]  In other words, the constitution states that the Judicial Branch is supposed to rule on every law, every treaty, and every controversy that effects a US citizen, a state or the country as a whole. The only exemption to this power is Impeachment and Trial, which is set out as a power of Congress.

An important member of the Executive Branch should not be telling the public that it the Judicial Branch is wrong when its Judges make rulings. That’s exactly what Judges are supposed to do. Their jobs are to review the actions of the Legislative and Executive branches. Federal Judges are supposed to eliminate rulings that are unconstitutional. That’s the job. We may not like the ruling, and it is obvious that Miller does not, but he has little recourse. Sure, he can go on television and complain about it, but unless he can find another federal judge to rule differently, [7]  he is just as stuck as those who fought against segregation were. [8]

Setting aside the discussion of his racist sentiments, Miller complained that an unelected federal judge in Seattle overstepped his power by stopping the president’s executive order that created the Muslim ban. It is true that federal judges do not run for election in the same way that local judges do. Federal judges are appointed by POTUS and confirmed by US Senate. They are appointed for life precisely so they are not limited by political elections or influenced by politics. Therefore, they remain in their positions until they die unless they resign or are impeached by Congress.

Looking at the specific Seattle ruling, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson brought the case to U.S. District Judge James Robart. Ferguson asked Robart to determine if the Executive Order was valid under the president’s national-security powers.[9]  Although immigration law is set by Executive and Legislative Branches, the Muslim Ban struck an unconstitutional cord.  In 1982, the US Supreme Court declared: “The clearest command of the Establishment Clause is that one religious denomination cannot be officially preferred over another.”[10] Thus, when Trump signed the Executive Order banning Muslims, it clearly and specifically violated constitutional law.

Robart’s ruling was appealed to a higher court: the Justice Department (part of the Executive Branch) asked US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit to review the case. The Appeals Court unanimously upheld Robart’s ruling.[11] They maintained the freeze on the immigration order.[12] When Miller said, “One unelected judge in Seattle cannot remake laws for the entire country,” he was wrong: one federal judge can do that, and three other federal judges agreed.

Judges protect our country too. Miller claimed on TV that Trump will protect the US — even writing that seems silly. It ignores the thousands of people who make up US military forces and many other people who work at airports, etc. But it ignores something more important. Protection is not only an external job; it is internal too.  I’m not talking about terror attacks on US soil. I’m referring to something much more important: the role of the federal judicial branch. As set up in the US Constitution, neither Congress (the legislative branch) nor the president (the executive branch) can alter a judicial ruling. To do so violates the separation of powers. Just to be clear: violating the separation of powers is unconstitutional.  If Stephen Miller ignores that, he turns himself into a flunky who arrogantly insists his side is right even when it means going against the constitutional power that he claims he wants to maintain.

— Footnotes —

[1] He spoke on most of the major networks (excepting CNN), appearing on “Meet the Press” (NBC), “Face the Nation” (CBS), “This Week” (ABC), and “Fox News Sunday.”

[2] David Jackson “Aide Stephen Miller takes vigorous Trump defense to TV Sunday shows” USA Today (2017) online at  http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/02/12/donald-trump-stephen-miller/97819774/ (2/23/2017).

[3] Aaron Blake “Stephen Miller’s authoritarian declaration: Trump’s national security actions ‘will not be questioned’” The Washington Post (2017) online at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/02/13/stephen-millers-audacious-controversial-declaration-trumps-national-security-actions-will-not-be-questioned/?utm_term=.5f303187cca8 (2/23/2017).

[4] Aaron Blake “Stephen Miller’s authoritarian declaration: Trump’s national security actions ‘will not be questioned’” The Washington Post (2017) online at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/02/13/stephen-millers-audacious-controversial-declaration-trumps-national-security-actions-will-not-be-questioned/?utm_term=.5f303187cca8 (2/23/2017).

[5] Aaron Blake “Stephen Miller’s authoritarian declaration: Trump’s national security actions ‘will not be questioned’” The Washington Post (2017) online at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/02/13/stephen-millers-audacious-controversial-declaration-trumps-national-security-actions-will-not-be-questioned/?utm_term=.5f303187cca8 (2/23/2017).

[6] “US Constitution Article III Section 2” FindLaw online at http://constitution.findlaw.com/article3.html#sthash.HyFchLXy.dpuf (2/24/2017).

[7] Rulings of a federal judge can be appealed to a federal appeals panel. In addition, once a federal judge rules, it is possible for a different case to go to another federal judge and for that second judge to rule differently.  If that happened, the case would go to a higher level court for determination. The federal higher court is an appeal’s court. In this case, if the president did not like the appeals court ruling, Justice Department attorneys could ask SCOTUS to review it.

[8] Whether on the federal level or in local courts, people don’t always like the rulings. There is an appeals process in place (if a person can afford that). Many organizations such as ACLU or Anti-Defamation League work towards changing law by bringing new cases to court in attempts to overturn a previous ruling. For instance, during US segregation, cases went to federal judges and SCOTUS many times before segregation was finally overturned.

[9] Jim Brunner, Jessica Lee, and David Gutman “Judge in Seattle halts Trump’s immigration order nationwide; White House vows fight” The Seattle Times online at http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/federal-judge-in-seattle-halts-trumps-immigration-order/ (2/24/2017).

[10] You can read “Larson v. Valente” at FindLaw (2017) online at  http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-supreme-court/456/228.html (2/23/2017).

[11] Matt Zapotosky “Federal appeals court rules 3 to 0 against Trump on travel ban” The Washington Post online at  https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/federal-appeals-court-maintains-suspension-of-trumps-immigration-order/2017/02/09/e8526e70-ed47-11e6-9662-6eedf1627882_story.html?utm_term=.7e1904ed9082 (2/24/17).

[12]  If you want to read more about their ruling, I suggest Matt Zapotosky’s  “7 key take-aways from the court’s ruling on Trump’s immigration order” The Washington Post online at  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2017/02/09/7-key-takeaways-from-the-courts-ruling-on-trumps-immigration-order/?utm_term=.2ccc8e6331b9 (2/24/17).

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About Lillith ThreeFeathers

Lillith ThreeFeathers is a shamanic healer, author, medium, and priestess.
This entry was posted in Media Thoughts, Politics, Society and Civilization and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Stephen Miller: Donald Trump and the Muslim Ban

  1. “Does he really expect President Trump to be above the law? Based on his responses that Sunday morning, he thinks so. Regardless of where you stand in the political arena, that attitude should bother you. Perhaps it should terrify you.”

    If one is trying to make a reasonable interpretation of his comments, I believe that reasonable person would conclude that Mr. Miller’s comments were, in fact, an expression of his belief that the judge was going outside the law in that the court did not properly consider the power granted to the President under the constitution in this matter.

    Granted, many people believe that Mr. Miller is incorrect in his thinking, but interpreting Mr. Miller’s comment is that light, it’s hard to be either bothered or terrified by them. Debating what powers POTUS has under the constitution is not only a valid pastime, but a necessary one.

    I would find posts like yours much more reasonable if you focused on the issue instead of insane-sounding rhetoric.

    Like

  2. Hello onereasonableperson.

    Yes, the power granted to the president is a worthy topic of discussion. However, Miller did not debate the topic; when he appeared on the television shows, he stated very clearly that those powers should not be questioned. For example on Face the Nation: “our opponents, the media and the whole world will soon see as we begin to take further actions, that the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned.” To repeat, he said “will not be questioned.” He was not asking for a debate.

    I am focusing on an issue: the issue of Presidential power and how it is moderated or impacted by the Judicial Branch. However, rather than focus on the issue and maintain the discussion, you issued an insult. That is a logical fallacy called ad hominem. It seems a paradox that you picked your pseudonym and then resorted to ad hominem claims. Were you attempting irony?

    There is another issue here too: the issue of a senior advisor going on television and stating false claims. Miller said the judge who ruled against Trump’s executive order said “a foreign national living in Libya has an effective right to enter the United States.” If Miller had bothered to read the ruling, he would have realized that was not what the judge wrote. Judge Robart issued a temporary restraining order based on constitutional law. He specifically mentioned refugee claims of religious minorities. The judge even stated that he was issuing a narrow ruling, “limited to ensuring that the actions taken by the other two branches comport with our country’s laws, and more importantly, our Constitution.”

    If you’d like to read Judge Robart’s ruling, you can find the document here: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2017/02/04/read-washington-judges-ruling-trumps-immigration-ban/97484850/ (accessed 2/24/2017).

    Like

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