Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The edge of the precipice - By Richard F. Miniter

American Thinker pieces by Michael Filozof ("The United States Cannot Survive as Presently Constituted"), Ed Straker ("Trump should disregard clearly unconstitutional court orders"), Selwyn Duke ("Trump could just ignore court's order halting travel ban") could be packaged together as a commentary by a freshly living Publius.  They're seamlessly reasoned.  Indeed, as a whole, they convincingly illustrate why the executive, in ignoring arrogations of power by the court, actually restores the Constitution to its original and much healthier balance of power between the Judicial and Executive branches rather than placing the nation, as the liberals insist it must, in crisis.
But the observation should also be made that Donald Trump does not yet see it.
Indeed, his lawyers out there in front of that joke panel of the joke Ninth Circuit are justifying his reasoning rather than his legitimate authority.
In exactly the fashion of a parent seeking to avoid having to exert his natural authority, the lawyers are admitting a child into their council.  But the point is that a parent is placed by Providence in a position of natural authority in order to exert it for the protection of the child and parent, exactly as the executive is placed in his position of constitutional authority for the protection of the nation.
And just as a parent, allowing a child to decide on his bedtime, or indeed whether he should have a bedtime at all, converts a family into a free-for-all, so a president, in chasing consensus where he is not required to do so by the Constitution, only invites what Shakespeare would call the leading of apes in hell.
This is why Lincoln was exactly right in ignoring Chief Justice Roger Taney's order to release the Confederate-sympathizing governor of Maryland from military arrest.  Because if the Federal Court was indulged and Maryland allowed to join the Confederacy, Washington would have fallen and with it, in all likelihood, the Union.  And as Selwyn Duke notes, Thomas Jefferson reminded us that the Constitution is not a suicide pact.
So wake up, President Trump.  Do not share your legitimate constitutional authority with those who are not by that Constitution entitled to it.  The presidents before you who have done so were wrong.
And they've taken us to the edge of the precipice in doing so.
Richard F. Miniter is the author of The Things I Want Most, Random House, BDD.  See it here.  He lives and writes in the colonial-era hamlet of Stone Ridge, New York; blogs here; and can also be reached at