President Trump took a shot at the federal judiciary when he criticized the “so-called” judge who overturn his executive order banning travelers from seven Muslim countries.
“The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!” Trump said on Twitter. It is unusual for a president to attack a member of the judiciary, which is an independent arm of the U.S. government.
“When a country is no longer able to say who can, and who cannot, come in & out, especially for reasons of safety & security – big trouble!” Trump tweeted.
Because of the temporary restraining order, the U.S. government said travelers with valid visas would be allowed to enter the country. The State Department said almost 60,000 visas had been suspended because of Trump’s ban.
The order had set off chaos and moved thousands of people to protest at airports across the United States last week.
“I am very happy that we are going to travel today. Finally, we made it,” said Fuad Sharef, an Iraqi with an immigration visa who was prevented from boarding a flight to New York last week.
“I didn’t surrender and I fought for my right and other people’s right,” Sharef told Reuters as he and his family prepared to fly from Erbil, the capital of the Kurdish region of northern Iraq, to Istanbul and then to New York, before starting a new life in Nashville, Tennessee.
Virtually all refugees also were barred, upending the lives of thousands of people who had spent years seeking asylum in the United States.
On Saturday, a small group of immigration lawyers, some holding signs in English and Arabic, gathered at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, offering services to passengers arriving from overseas destinations.
“This is an instance where people could really slip through the cracks and get detained and nobody would know,” said John Biancamano, 35, an attorney volunteering his services.
At Dulles International Airport outside Washington, volunteer lawyers also were in place to help travelers and monitor how visa holders and permanent residents were being treated as they arrived.
The Department of Homeland Security said on Saturday it would return to its normal procedures for screening travelers but that the Trump administration would fight to overturn Friday’s ruling.
“At the earliest possible time, the Department of Justice intends to file an emergency stay of this order and defend the president’s executive order, which is lawful and appropriate,” DHS spokeswoman Gillian Christensen said a statement.
Trump’s defense of his order is based on both precedent and tradition. But he had no right to question the legitimacy of the judge who issued the order which, after all, was only a temporary stay and not a permanent injunction.
The judiciary is an independent and coequal branch of the government. The judge in question was nominated by President Bush and confirmed by the Senate. There is nothing “so-called” about his legitimacy. And for a president of the United States to even hint that there is a question about the judge’s authority to issue a temporary stay of a presidential executive order is dangerous.
Trump is on solid legal ground with his order — far more solid than President Obama was with his immigration executive orders that are still tied up in court and will probably be declared unconstitutional. It is likely that the stay of Trump’s order will itself be blocked on appeal. The court cases will continue until one of them hits the Supreme Court, where the president is virtually assured of a victory.
Trump has got to start realizing that he can no longer play with words. Everything he says is taken literally. He is no longer on the campaign trail, where he could say these outrageous things without any real consequence. By challenging the legitimacy of a federal judge, he challenges the constitutional order and undermines the authority of the federal judiciary.
It’s a lesson he has to learn quickly.