President Trump’s recent travails over his immigration restriction order call up the question of what the role of the U. S. federal government is, perhaps in contrast to the roles of other governments. “Federal” is in quotes because many people don’t understand the difference between a federal government and a national one.
Further, many don’t grasp the unique role of the United States – and our government – in the world, since, say, the Spanish-American War. That was a funny, lop-sided war about which little is taught in public schools, anymore. In fact, it was so short-lived and had so few veterans that one might wonder what the fuss was all about, anyway.
“Remember the Maine!” Ever hear that? If you’ve gone to Arlington National Cemetery you’ve seen the Memorial to Maine’s 260 dead sailors. The destruction and sinking of the Maine may or may not have had anything to do with the Spanish, but it caused the decision to solve the Cuba problem, and the Spanish problem, once and for all.
In the end we temporarily took over Cuba (dominating it until Batista was dislodged by Castro), Puerto Rico, the Philippines and Guam; Teddy Roosevelt enhanced his resumé, changing presidential history, and the U. S. became a more involved Pacific power. MacArthur was forced out of the Philippines by the Japanese only to commit to returning, and Guam played a key role against the Japanese, as well. U. S. relations with South and Central American nations became even more strained and domineering, causing difficulties that persist to this day. So, not so inconsequential, after all.
America’s role on this multi-national planet has been gigantic since then, through two World Wars, the rise and demise of Communism in the Soviet Union, and astounding control and profiteering from the global banking/monetary system. Petro-dollars. There are many who think we should tuck our tail and let some other nation do the heavy lifting for a while… we’ve got our own problems to deal with.
Careful thought should reveal that that is the worst path for us to follow. On the other hand, we have learned, painfully, that we can’t impose our form of government on other nations, and we should not. If you’re looking for things that are not constitutional, that is a big one, Prudence counsels.
But after we tried having the several new states contribute to the operations of a “central” government under the Articles of Confederation, we put our minds to the task of creating something new on Earth: a Constitutional Republic, with separated powers and democratically elected representatives and even a democratically elected chief executive – a president not of the Congress, but of the united STATES. It has been quite a ride since then.
By adopting our phenomenal Constitution, “we the people” relinquished a carefully measured portion of our inalienable rights as sovereign citizens, whose rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness came not from the government, but from God, or, if you please, the order of the Universe that resulted in sentient human beings, whatever that is.
At the same time we created for ourselves an exceptional class of humans who are citizens of the United States with certain rights and responsibilities, while we remain citizens of the several States with additional rights and responsibilities. WE, as citizens of the States, FORMED and granted power to, for limited things – big things, but constrained – the new, FEDERAL government. People have their inalienable rights, States have their rights and the Federal government has its rights and “enumerated” powers to facilitate our individual pursuits of happiness, protect our union of states from foreign and domestic dangers, and, to impose some uniformity of laws and economics, including federal taxation and tariffs, and to maintain an army, a navy and a court system.
States could no longer conduct their own diplomacy with foreign governments or have different policies of immigration or of citizenship – those are Federal, logically, and all matters of citizenship or denial of citizenship, with all of the rights and powers that attach to U. S. citizenship, are the business of the Federal authority and of the Federal courts. Disputes between States or between States and the Federal government, are also the province of Federal courts, including appeals to the Supreme Court. And here we may soon be.
The two forces at conflict in the U. S. since the Civil War are Constitutional liberty and extra-Constitutional socialism. Originally, people and States were free to work, create, gain or lose within the law, and take responsibility for gaining or losing; alternatively they needed collective, or socialized sharing of life’s ups and downs to the point of being “free” from hardship and responsibility under the law. One path is strengthening, the other weakening of the social order and of individuals, and weakening of the States, themselves.
President Trump, as he promised, issued an appropriate Executive Order in accordance with the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. 1101 et seq., and section 301 of title 3, United States Code, restricting entrance to the United States of persons not otherwise legally entitled to enter or re-enter (poorly executed on the ground, but legal and justified, nonetheless) from 7 failed countries that cannot “vet” their residents – no, their occupants – sufficiently to ascertain whether they are who they claim to be or what their record is. From these 7 countries have come, since 9-11, some 72 bad actors who have committed terrorist acts in the United States.
There is no way, practically speaking, to know whether more are on their way; Mr. Trump took an appropriate, Federal step.
Two states sued on the basis that the abrupt interruption of travel impinged on the smooth function of their state governments, particularly of their State Universities, and a federal judge ruled that they had standing to sue. They further charged that Trump’s intention was to ban Muslims, for which they claimed unconstitutionality, as well as “unconstitutional” interruptions on the free travel of their residents, not necessarily of their citizens.
The judge went so far as to cite Trump’s campaign statements about banning Muslims temporarily as a basis for construing an unconstitutional intent – INTENT! – that made the need for a Temporary Restraining Order an emergency.
And here we are. Without precedent, and, let’s hope, without creating a precedent. A federal court has ruled that temporary inconvenience for a State’s internal functions may be sufficient to interrupt lawful measures for the purpose of national security. This is new territory. The creative interference with valid federal duties that restive state’s Attorneys General might devise, is limitless. Federal judges should have sense enough to reject these efforts to politicize our security.
Clearly Prudence doesn’t direct the President, but she strongly advises that the new U. S. Attorney General defend this case in the supreme Court so that there is no precedent created for left-leaning judges to take non-judicial steps to interfere with the executive branch, UN-constitutionally.