After a heated week filled with protests and lawyers scrambling to file writs of habeas corpus to help detained immigrants and travelers in late January, standing Attorney General Sally Q. Yates released a letter announcing that she would not support President Trump’s 90 to 120 day ban on immigrants and refugees from seven Muslim-majority nations.
Trump, calling her opposition to his Executive Order a “betrayal”, promptly fired Yates from the position and temporarily filled the seat with the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Dana J. Boente, until his pick Senator Jeff Sessions could be confirmed.
“I would have done the same,” senior Jonathan Buchanan said. “The [Attorney General] is in a support position to help The Executive Branch navigate the Judicial Branch and not to make policy or political decisions.”
“Trump has gone too far,” sophomore Lily Dominguez said. “Firing [standing] attorney general Sally Yates for daring to exercise her own personal and legal judgment about the immigration order was in no way a violation.”
Dominguez believes that he only did it to set a precedent.
“The only reason he did it was because it would set a threatening precedent for the rule of law under his administration,” Dominguez said.
As of Feb. 8, Sen. Sessions was confirmed and will take on the role of the 84 Attorney General of the United States.
Sen. Sessions was a highly contested candidate for the office, spurring disapproval from Senate Democrats and civil rights activists across the country due to his history with race and voter suppression.
Not as contentious, however, was Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court of the United States.
Judge Neil Gorsuch, who sits on the United States Court of Appeals for the 10 Circuit, is a conservative judge and a constitutional literalist, much like his predecessor Justice Antonin Scalia who passed away February 2016.
Constitutional Literalism is the idea that the United States Constitution should be taken “as is”, and that it should be interpreted literally without making inferences into what the words could mean in any context other than how it’s written. Justice Scalia once remarked that the Constitution is a “dead document” rather than a living document to highlight his beliefs on interpretation.
“I think his choice for the Supreme Court is impeccable and brilliant,” Buchanan said. “A true lover of the law and the constitution. Constitutionalist to the end.”
Dominguez disagreed with Buchanan’s statement.
“[Judge Gorsuch] is going to have to shape major decisions for decades to come and I just don’t feel like he suits the needs we need for this country,” Dominguez said. “One being he is the youngest nominee to the Supreme Court in 25 years, I’m pretty sure there is a reason they have considered age in the past years.”
Dominguez feels that Judge Gorsuch doesn’t have enough experience.
“With age comes experience and with experience comes ethical judgments and reasoning,” she added. “[…]He has a lot of shoes to fill next to Justice Scalia.”
While Gorsuch has his own set of controversies, the reaction to his appointment in comparison to Sen. Sessions or Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has been significantly calmer – likely due to the fact that Gorsuch has been a sitting appellate judge for over a decade and is considered a logical pick for a Republican president.
It’s the 9 Circuit of Appeals’s ruling on “State of Washington v Donald Trump,” however, that garnered the most attention in early February.
In its decision, the 9 Circuit upheld a block on President Trump’s immigration ban because of injury against Washington and Minnesota, who argued that the order was causing significant detriment and harm to substantial numbers of people to the detriment of the states – specifically that it affected attendance of their state universities because foreign students were unable to travel to the states for the semester.
“The ninth circuit is as liberal as you’ll find in our court system,” Buchanan said. “They were hand picked to serve just this purpose.”
Dominguez said that she is glad that attorney generals have challenged the executive order.
“I’m glad that attorney generals from Washington and Minnesota have challenged the executive order,” Dominguez said. “He literally has just unleashed [the] beast of the unknown by even signing the order. He does not know what he just got America into.”
Trump’s reaction to the court’s decision has been notably incensed, starting with a tweet on Feb. 9 that said “SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!”
The president went on to tweet that the court’s ruling was “A disgraceful decision”, “SO DANGEROUS”, and said that our legal system is broken.
It isn’t known yet whether Supreme Court will hear “Washington v Trump” any time soon, but it is possible for the Trump administration to file an emergency application and be heard much quicker than if they file an emergency petition and a petition for certiorari (the more standard path to a SCOTUS hearing), according to “The New York Times.”