Trump has issued a replacement executive order, one that his lawyers evidently felt would be easier to defend. Importantly, the new order still shares the central defect of its predecessor: it is a “Muslim ban” in intent and effect. It would be difficult to imagine a stronger case of impermissible religious discrimination than this one. The president has admitted his purpose on multiple occasions.
The overwhelming rejection of Trump’s travel ban by the courts and by the American public has been triggered by an order directed at foreign nationals, not US citizens. It wasn’t our rights that were at stake, but their rights. If this is what measures aimed at foreigners trigger, imagine what will happen if and when he issues an executive order that infringes on any Americans’ rights.
It is the “war” on crime itself that is most to blame. More than any other nation in the world, we turn to the state-sanctioned compulsion of the criminal justice system to “solve” social problems. Our “first responders” are too often the police, bearing handcuffs and guns rather than public assistance or life support.
The Gunning of America: Business and the Making of American Gun Culture
by Pamela Haag
Guns Across America: Reconciling Gun Rules and Rights
by Robert J. Spitzer
The long tradition of gun regulations almost certainly means that the Supreme Court will not construe the Second Amendment to invalidate most gun laws on the books today, but that simply leaves the matter to the political process, where the NRA is plainly winning. If history is any guide, it will succeed in thwarting any new gun control initiative prompted by the Orlando massacre.
The Taming of Free Speech: America’s Civil Liberties Compromise
by Laura Weinrib
Free Speech and Unfree News: The Paradox of Press Freedom in America
by Sam Lebovic
“Civil liberties once were radical.” So begins Laura Weinrib’s important revisionist history of the origins of American civil liberties, provocatively entitled The Taming of Free Speech: America’s Civil Liberties Compromise. In her account, the fight began in the early twentieth century as a radical struggle for workers’ rights and redistributive justice. The central claim was for a “right of agitation,” which its proponents believed predated the Constitution and afforded workers the right to engage in direct collective action to pressure employers for higher wages and better working conditions.
The president of the United States is supposed to serve the American people, not himself, and certainly not the interests of foreign states. President Trump chose to seek this office, and this responsibility. He is trying to have it both ways, serving himself, his family, and his far-flung business interests while simultaneously making foreign and domestic policy decisions that will inevitably have direct effects on his personal holdings. That way lies scandal, corruption, and illegitimacy.
Whatever else one might say about the just-concluded 2016 presidential election, one thing is certain: FBI Director James Comey played an outsized and exceptionally inappropriate part. His highly prejudicial announcement on October 28, just eleven days before the election, that he had reopened an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail server ensured that the final critical days of the campaign were taken up with innuendos and suppositions set off by his action.
As a matter of longstanding policy, the ACLU does not take positions supporting or opposing nominees for office, and as a result it rarely testifies in confirmation hearings. But we are sufficiently concerned about Sessions’s record that we have elected to depart from our usual practice and speak out—not to oppose the nomination, but to insist that the many questions about Sessions’s record must be answered before the Senate votes on his nomination for attorney general.
Will Trump be able to put in place all the worst ideas he tossed out so cavalierly on the campaign trail? Building a wall; banning and deporting Muslims; ending Obamacare; reneging on climate change treaty responsibilities; expanding libel law; criminalizing abortion; jailing his political opponents; supporting aggressive stop-and-frisk policing; reviving mass surveillance and torture? Whether Trump will actually try to implement his proposed plans, and more importantly, whether he will succeed if he does try, lies as much in our hands as in his.
FBI director James Comey prides himself on being independent. But “independence” doesn’t excuse not following the rules. By elevating his own concerns about his personal reputation above the rules, Comey will forever be remembered as the FBI director who abused the power of his office to interfere in an imminent presidential election.
Though it has just concluded a term in which its rulings have advanced the cause of justice, the Supreme Court continues to approach criminal justice cases without confronting the reality of race-based policing, as in the decision issued in the second-to-last week of the term, Utah v. Strife. As a result, the rules it promulgates too often exacerbate rather than curtail discriminatory law enforcement.