Six days after he was inaugurated in January of 2017, the 45th President of the United States said: “Donald J. Trump is calling for a complete shut down of Muslims entering into the United States…”
Nearly a year and a half later, the United States Supreme Court today has upheld the third version of Trump’s ban in a 5-4 decision. Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority, averred: “Plaintiffs argue that this President’s words strike at fundamental standards of respect and tolerance, in violation of our constitutional tradition…But the issue before us is not whether to denounce the statements. It is instead the significance of those statements in reviewing a Presidential directive, neutral on its face, addressing a matter within the core of executive responsibility. In doing so, we must consider not only the statements of a particular President, but also the authority of the Presidency itself.”
The confirmation of Trump’s Supreme Court appointee, Neil Gorsuch, mattered…
Friends, conservative opinions like today’s ruling shall be par for the course for many years to come; today’s edict is a signal that as times past have shown, that bigotry and White Anglo-Saxon Supremacist dogma can and will become the supreme law of the land when a wrong-minded majority of white males (and white male in black skin Clarence Thomas) sitting on the highest court of the land hide behind grandiloquent words and legal jargon to the chagrin of people of color or non-Christian citizens and potential immigrants.
While disappointing, I am not surprised; these United States have seen variations on this race or cultural based theme many times before, such as:
DRED SCOTT CASE
(Portrait of Dred Scott)
Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, writing for the majority, opined: “In the opinion of the court, the legislation and histories of the times, and the language used in the Declaration of Independence, show, that neither the class of persons who had been imported as slaves, nor their descendants, whether they had become free or not, were then acknowledged as a part of the people, nor intended to be included in the general words used in that memorable instrument…They had for more than a century before been regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations; and so far inferior, that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit.”
PLESSY VS FERGUSON
Chief Justice Henry Billings Brown, writing for the majority, held: “We consider the underlying fallacy of the plaintiff’s argument to consist in the assumption that the enforced separation of the two races stamps the colored race with a badge of inferiority. If this be so, it is not by reason of anything found in the act, but solely because the colored race chooses to put that construction upon it.”
Justice Hugo Black, a former member of the Ku Klux Klan, wrote for the majority that: “Korematsu was not excluded from the Military Area because of hostility to him or his race. He was excluded because we are at war with the Japanese Empire, because the properly constituted military authorities feared an invasion of our West Coast and felt constrained to take proper security measures, because they decided that the military urgency of the situation demanded that all citizens of Japanese ancestry be segregated from the West Coast temporarily, and, finally, because Congress, reposing its confidence in this time of war in our military leaders—as inevitably it must—determined that they should have the power to do just this.”
Knowing this history, the fact that some pundits are claiming that Chief Justice Roberts and others had “strong words” for the “language” used by President Trump really does not matter when, by judicial fiat, they back up the policy implemented along with those presidential words by shrugging their shoulders and allowing him to hide behind “presidential authority.” They know better, but at the end of the day, their vote as jurists clearly comport with their personal perspective on the validity of what remains Trump’s stated position, which was to “ban all Muslims.” More crucially, they handed Trump a key victory–and he did not waste time Tweeting about his win!