*The following is an opinion column by R Muse*
It is with a fair amount of confidence that one can safely assume most Americans understand that when a court issues an order, failure to comply is a crime. Oh, it’s true one can be found in “contempt” of a court for badmouthing a presiding judge to their face, but most contempt charges are for not doing what the court ordered.
One seriously doubts, and it is truly unfortunate, that many Americans actually comprehend that according to the U.S. Constitution, the Judicial branch (the courts) is the ultimate arbiter of what is legal and constitutional, and what is not. It is how America has operated for 239 years as part of the “checks and balances” enshrined in the law of the land and a specific means to prevent an authoritarian tyrant from making and enforcing, or violating at will, laws according to their particular religious or racist bent. In fact, the checks and balances were put in place by the Founding Fathers and Constitution’s Framers specifically to keep a megalomaniac narcissist like Don Trump from ruling America like it is a two-bit banana republic. The whole point is, as Nick Baumann at Huffington Post reminded Americans; “When federal judges rule, government officials – up to and including the president – are supposed to obey or risk being held in contempt of court.”
The reason Trump’s religious Muslim ban has now been cited as “a constitutional crisis” on two separate grounds is because he cannot, and apparently will not, accept that the Constitution, and not Trump, is the law of the land. The law of the land that for over 200-hundred years stated that all Americans have to abide by a court order. But an order, any kind of order, affecting Trump just can’t apply to him because no-one tells him what to do and no stinking court is going to question his religious edict against Muslims. It doesn’t matter what the Constitution says, only what Trump says. Yes, it’s true that a couple of weeks ago Trump did put his tiny little hand on two Christian bibles and swear to his god to uphold and support the Constitution, but even the Christian god knows Trump was lying and that he had no intent of upholding, supporting, or even acknowledging that the document has any relevance in “his’ regime.
There were four separate courts from Virginia to Washington state that ruled against Trump’s religious ban, but as of now only Virginia is “looking for the court to hold President Trump in contempt of court.” Virginia had issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) that required officials to let attorneys speak with legal residents who were being detained on religious grounds; part of their Constitutional due process rights guaranteed in the 5th and 14th Amendments. Based on the evidence that, under the Trump executive orders, officials still refused to allow detained travelers at Virginia’s Dulles International Airport see their lawyers, the state demands that the court hold Trump in contempt of court, and one adds throw his bloated sense of himself in jail. There is a very recent precedent to imprison an elected official until they obey the court, the law and the Constitution they swore to support.
It has only been a year-and-a-half since another elected official decided that the law, and federal court orders, didn’t apply to her because religion was the issue like Trump’s “Muslim ban.” Kim Davis is the Kentucky clerk who ordered her underlings to obey her and reject the Constitution and federal court orders founded on a religious issue. It is exactly like Trump ordering Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials to ignore the courts over another religious issue – Islam. There is no reason whatsoever that Trump should not be held in contempt and escorted off to jail by federal marshals until such time he decides that he too is bound by the Constitution and court orders. If jail for contempt of court was good enough for Kim Davis, it is good enough for Trump; they are both violating the U. S. Constitution and federal court orders based on religion.
Despite a very clear order from a Virginian judge to allow detainees access to lawyers, CBP officials refused to obey the judge’s order and told the attorneys “It’s not going to happen.” That kind of response sounds like they came directly out of Trump’s mouth despite it violates due process law and a federal court order. In fact, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker was rejected by CBP officials as well and it prompted him to say:
“I am now of the belief that though this was issued by the judicial branch, that it was violated tonight. And so one of the things I will be doing is fighting to make sure that the executive branch abides by the law as it was issued in this state and around the nation. This will be an ongoing battle … I believe it’s a constitutional crisis, where the executive branch is not abiding by the law.”
As HuffPo’s Baumann said, “Obedience to specific court orders is what keeps us from being a banana republic or fascist dictatorship. That’s a really big deal.” With all due respect to Mr. Baumann, it would be a big deal if America wasn’t already waist-deep in the midst of a fascist coup d’état with a banana republic dictator flouting the Constitution when it contradicts his “law.” The only means of sending the Trump a signal that he is not above the law, at least not yet, is hold him in contempt of court and lock him up; at least until he countermands his religious ban against Muslims or rots in a 5×7 cell where criminals belong.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.