I am not a constitutional lawyer, or a lawyer of any kind. I cannot tell you whether the second travel ban of President Donald Trump is constitutional or not. For that matter, I can't even tell you if the first ban was constitutional. Yet I think it is good news that the courts are continuing to challenge the White House on these bans.
Experts disagree, but many say that the new ban is likely to be seen as constitutional. Even so, the courts continue to say no to the president. No matter what happens on appeal, I believe the president is being taught an important lesson. In this country, you don't always get your way, even if you are the president.
Whatever its constitutionality, I find the ban offensive. There seems to be no evidence that the ban is needed to make us safer, and it flies in the face of our country's ideals. This is particularly true in its callousness toward desperate refugees, especially women and children.
Ireland Prime Minister Enda Kenny visited the White House and gave a stunning rebuke to the president concerning his treatment of immigrants and refugees. He did so by praising the United States for accepting millions of Irish immigrants during their potato famine. He notes that those in his country lacked opportunity, safety and sustenance, but the United States opened its doors to them and they became Americans who have greatly contributed to this country. Trump stood beside Kenny and showed no reaction during the prime minister's extended remarks.
The final decision may come from the Supreme Court, which is currently minus one justice. As a young Catholic, I saw the Supreme Court as representing our country's infallibility. It had the last word in all cases, and everyone had to follow their decision.
This week, we celebrate the first anniversary of the launch of our podcast, NCR in Conversation. Catch the latest episode here.
Today, there seems to be an erosion of the notion of infallibility in both the church and the country. A number of Catholic traditionalists, who have long championed the pope's infallibility, are now saying he may be a heretic and may need to be corrected or censured by other clerics. This may warrant further inquiry at a later date.
The Supreme Court is also losing credibility and respect. Republicans refused to even speak to President Barack Obama's nominee to the court, Merrick Garland, and now want Democrats to confirm their own pick, Neil Gorsuch. In the past, the Senate would defer to the president's pick, making sure only that the nominee's credentials met the high bar of qualification for such a position.
So what should the Democrats do now? It can hardly be argued that the court represents a neutral arbiter of judicial facts. There is of course a natural tendency to dis the Republican nominee just as Obama's nominee was cast aside.
The Supreme Court has become a political institution, and it is unlikely to revert back to a more hallowed status. The direction of the court is controlled by the president and the Congress. Therefore, it only makes sense for the political will to exert itself on both sides of the aisle to get the kind of Supreme Court they want.
The country is at such a divide right now that Republicans simply could not stand the idea of the court becoming more liberal. I suspect the Democrats feel the same way about the court becoming more conservative.
Republicans were terrified over the possible election of Hillary Clinton and the court's taking a significant turn to the left. Maybe some of these Republicans were right when they suggested that the court should be left with only eight justices. Many major decisions would likely end up in a 4 to 4 deadlock.
I doubt that any nine-justice court could win the support of the American people at this time. Leaving the court at eight justices would leave major decisions in the hands of lower courts and politicians. That would mean there would be no final arbiter to deal any decisive blows. Maybe that would be a good thing for the country, and even for the church.
Just $5 a month supports NCR's independent Catholic journalism.
We are committed to keeping our online journalism open and available to as many readers as possible. To do that, we need your help. Join NCR Forward, our new membership program.
Looking for comments?
We've suspended comments on NCRonline.org for a while. If you missed that announcement, learn more about our decision here.