The article originally appeared on India Today.
Here it is bit modified and extended.
US President is disgusted and he letting the world known the root-cause of his anger, the US Judiciary, that has stayed the Trump administration’s controversial travel ban order on people from seven Muslim countries, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Sudan for 90 days. His order also suspended the US refugee programme for 120 days and put an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees.
Trump said he was doing so to prevent entry of terrorists in the US but it seems no one is buying that.
First, the New York District Judge on January 28 had partially stayed Trump’s executive order barring deportations already arrived on the US soil with a valid visa. Then on January 3, the Seattle District Judge, though temporary, put a complete, nationwide stay on the executive order.
How desperate is the Trump administration about its travel ban plans becomes evident from the fact that the US Justice Department approached the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals late in the night, after midnight, against the Seattle District Judge order. But even that court refused to grant Trump administration any immediate respite till the next hearing that is scheduled for today.
Meanwhile, protests again Trump’s executive order spreading nationwide and in many other countries and the number of protesters is swelling, including the corporate America, information-technology companies and some Republican senators like John McCain, Lindsey Graham and more importantly Mitch McConnell, the Majority Leader of the US Senate, who said that in case of an adverse court ruling, the Congress would not help Trump with his travel ban plans.
It has left Trump fuming and he has chosen his favourite platform Twitter to let the world know his anger and he began his onslaught with a ‘MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!’ tweet on February 4 that followed five more tweets on the issue on February 5 and two on February 6. He has continued with his agenda and today tweeted to say that ‘courts must act fast’ on his travel ban order and the day is not over yet. Also, Trump added today that he was ready to go to the Supreme Court to get his travel ban order implemented.
THE HIDDEN AGENDA?
According to a Washington Post report, the Trump administration has inherited 103 judicial vacancies in the federal and district courts from the Obama administration. It is almost double to what Barack Obama had got, 54 vacancies to fill judges of his choice.
What Barack Obama had inherited from his predecessor George Bush was a Republic legacy with majority of Republican nominated judges in 10 of 13 circuit courts as per a USA Today report. It took Barack Obama eight years to replace the Republican choices with Democratic nominees but his progress was halted midway in 2015 when the Republicans took the US Senate control. The Obama administration blamed the Senate Republicans for deliberately obstructing the process.
Nominating judges in the US courts has always been the prerogative of the US President and his party and so being majority of Democrat nominees or Republican nominees is a natural things and we should not look beyond that.
But the perception about Donald Trump changes that normal. The Washington Post report writes that ‘Trump has vowed to choose ideologues in the mold of the late Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative icon — a prospect that has activists on the right giddy’. Antonin Scalia, a Ronald Reagan appointee to the US Supreme Court, was seen as a legal luminary but with a conservative mindset who vocally opposed gay rights and abortion.
Scalia’s death last year had given Obama an opportunity to tilt the 5-4 conservative majority in the US Supreme Court in favour of a 5-4 liberal majority but the Senate Republicans didn’t allow Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland.
And it seems Trump has started giving shape to his plans to reshape the US judiciary. On January 31, Trump nominated appellate judge Neil Gorsuch to fill Scalia’s vacancy. If confirmed, Gorsuch will again tilt the 5-4 majority in favour of the conservatives.
TRAVEL BAN A CHANCE?
The way Trump is criticising the US Judiciary on putting a stay on his travel ban executive order, it seems it can be the beginning of the process to rapidly fill the US Judiciary with more conservative judges who are likely to have a favourable view of Trump’s administration conservative policies like travel ban or stopping funds to the NGOs working for abortion.
Trump thinks the present US Judicial System is like ‘that of a third-world country’ and rigged, a CNN report says, “Folks, we’re living in a third-world country. This has never happened before. This is the lowest point in terms of our judicial system. This is the lowest point in the history of our country. Remember that. And when I talk about a rigged system, let’s see what happens. Let’s see what happens.”
His tweets say it all, his disdain for the US Judiciary. He finds the judges’ decision to put a stay on his executive order ridiculous. He is blaming them to make the US unsafe by allowing terrorists and dangerous people to pour in. It is as if denouncing all the systems that existed in the US before Trump who want to change it all. Probably, this is his way to initiate ‘making America great again’!
And a more ‘likeminded and amenable judiciary’ can be a great help here, especially when the US under Trump is going to see a flurry of lawsuits against Trump’s decisions that his rivals see as controversial. That is bound to happen as Trump’s victory has bitterly divided America and he took oath with historically low approval ratings amid nationwide protests.
Barring few, Republicans who control both Houses of the US Congress, have backed Trump’s travel ban and judges’ adverse views on it may propel them to have more likeminded, conservative judges in the judicial circuits. True that will take some time but then Trump is ready to move to the Supreme Court and he may expect a respite there with a 5-4 conservative majority once Neil Gorsuch is approved.