Courts vs. Trump : A Clash of Legal Authority

By Nethani Palmani | Feb 20, 2017 09:27 AM EST

The recent action of U.S. Court of Appeals in issuing the temporary restraining order against President Trump's travel ban has received an unprecedented amount of criticism from legal experts. They argue that the president can enjoy a viable amount of legal authority in his position to take immigration-related actions.

But at the same time, experts choose to label the courts' legal reasoning as being conventional rather than considering that the courts have woken up to the dangers of the Trump presidency. With the clashing sides, the courts are now faced with a question: Can they face down President Trump without undermining their own standing?

Trump's recent travel ban suspended Muslims and travelers from seven countries in the Middle East from entering the United States. After a messy rollout and much confusion, the United States' court administration excluded green-card holders from the president's executive order.

In defense, the president claimed that his legal authority can't be any clearer. Trump's claim is indeed relevant to a U.S. statute that authorizes the president to "suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens" if he finds their presence to be "detrimental to the interests of the United States," according to Politico.

Many believe that the blame lies with Trump, condoning that he used the pretext of national security to indulge his hostility to a vulnerable group, in a manner lacking self-discipline and professionalism. Critics think he has lost the confidence of the courts.

President Trump's authority rests on trust and discretion, not on triumph of the will, as critics say. But this could end up a problem because courts have historically deferred to the president on national-security matters who acts on the basis of classified information and may need to move quickly, says NY Times.

If courts are beginning to create a "Trump exception" to settled law on presidential powers, it is plausible that the state of their safety will soon return to the era in which the courts and intelligence agents trusted the president's word. However, while the court's alertness to its institutional prerogatives may be celebrated, the public should be aware that the clash poses serious stakes and risks between the executive and the judiciary.

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