The President had determined

Amy Davidson at the New Yorker tells us that the core issue in the hearings on Trump’s ban is whether the courts or the people have any recourse when a president lies.

There was the ban, then the restraining order, then a request for an emergency stay of the restraining order.

The three judges on the appeals court—Michelle Friedland, Richard Clifton, and William Canby—wanted to know what, exactly, the emergency was.

As, I think, we all do. I for one want to know whether Trump even thinks there’s an emergency, or whether he simply thinks he needs to do something new and different rather the way a dog thinks this shrub needs a new spray of piss – to overlay and overrule the previous sprays of piss.

August Flentje, a special counsel to the Assistant Attorney General, who was arguing the case for the Trump Administration, said, in effect, that the emergency was that the restraining order got in the way of the President’s power to say that there was an emergency—to announce that the country was in danger. Putting a hold on the ban “overrides the President’s national-security judgment about the level of risk,” he said. It was the President’s job to make that determination, not any court’s.

And there’s your problem right there. The president in question has no judgment, about anything. He has no conception of the activity of judgment, or how it’s carried out. He doesn’t do judgment, and he so thoroughly doesn’t do judgment that he has no idea that he doesn’t do judgment – he has no idea that his thought processes are deficient in any way. He thinks all that’s required is speed and toughness. That, alas, is the opposite of judgment.

The judges had to believe the President when he said it was all a matter of the country being in immediate peril, and not about his views of any religion or about the demographic future of America. And they certainly shouldn’t pay attention to any reports that the President had, indeed, cited those very reasons for instituting a ban—Flentje dismissed those as “some newspaper articles.” The judges should just look at the language of the order and believe.

But how can they? Even if that’s normally best legal practice (I don’t know if it is or not), how can they do that with this specific president? When he’s visibly so reckless and uninformed and dishonest?

Judge Friedland pushed Flentje on the question of evidence – whether he had any, or really just expected the judges to close their eyes and Believe.

Flentje said that “numerous foreign individuals” had committed crimes since September 11, 2001, and that the President had determined that there were “deteriorating conditions in certain countries.” When he was asked if the government had pointed to any evidence connecting those particular countries to terrorism, he rejected the idea that it had to.

“The President had determined”=Trump pulled it out of his ass.

But there were immigration processes in place, Judge Clifton said. Where was the evidence “that there’s a real risk, or that circumstances have changed?”

“Well, the President determined that there was a real risk,” Flentje said. It was, he added, “understandable” that he had done so, because “the President understands” these matters.

But of course he doesn’t. He understands nothing. We can all see that, all the time.

Immigration law does give latitude to the President when the country is in danger. But what happens when you have a President who the courts, and any objective person, know tells lies? How should the assertions of danger then be regarded in light of other laws saying, for example, that religion should not be a reason for excluding people? For that matter, how should they be regarded in light of not only the Constitution’s Establishment Clause, which precludes religious tests, but any number of other passages in that document?

That, but also the additional problem – the fact that he knows nothing about it, and doesn’t even understand that he knows nothing about it. How can judges be expected to assent blindly to Trump’s claims about danger when we have seen him talk a pestilent combination of lies and ignorance on the subject for years? How can we take his word for it after his gruesome lies about the Central Park Five? His rants about carnage in Chicago? His lies about people in New Jersey celebrating 9/11? He may be so ignorant and mindless that he doesn’t realize he’s lying – he may think claims are true if he utters them.

This will be an ongoing problem.

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