Three Court Cases Worth Noting
The Ninth Circuit just struck down Trumps travel ban (again.)
06/12/2017 08:47 pm ET
A shorter URL for the above link:
There are three separate court cases which are making news today, so I
thought itd be worthwhile to take a quick look at all of them, to see the
potential impact they might have. The three cases are in very different
stages of completion. One was just filed in federal court. One got a just
got a ruling from the Ninth Circuit of Appeals. And one is about to be
ruled on by the Supreme Court. So lets take them one at a time.
Maryland and D.C. sue Trump
This is the case which was just filed today. The state of Maryland and the
District of Columbia are suing President Trump for violating the
Emoluments Clause of the Constitution. This case is interesting in a
number of ways, and has the potential to have a big impact on Trumps
presidency almost irrespective of which side eventually wins in court.
Do Maryland and D.C. have the right to sue Trump? They think they do,
and they have an interesting argument to make.
The case will hinge on one very important ruling: standing. Do Maryland
and D.C. have the right to sue Trump? They think they do, and they have an
interesting argument to make. They are saying that the Trump Hotel in D.C.
is taking business that normally would go to publicly-owned convention
centers, because foreign clients (and domestic clients as well) are
booking Trump Hotel in anticipation of more-favorable treatment by the
president. Theyll have to prove all of that in court, of course, but the
importance of the case may be in two rulings which happen long before the
case is ever decided.
The Supreme Court has (as of this writing) not released its ruling on this
case, but will rule at some point in the next few weeks. This could
provide a definitive answer or it could be rather inconclusive (if the
high court rules very narrowly and sends the whole case back to the lower
courts, for instance). But if a sweeping ruling is announced, it could
have as big an impact on national elections as Citizens United.
The case comes from Wisconsin, and unlike most rulings on gerrymandering
it does not even involve race. Racial gerrymandering is a tricky legal
subject, because a state can either have too little racial gerrymandering
(splitting a groups vote so they can never hope to elect one of their own
to the House of Representatives), or too much (when a state crams all
minorities into one district, so they wont have any effect on any other
district). But thats not what this case is about.
In Wisconsin, the lower court ruled gerrymandered districts were
unconstitutional on the grounds that it was partisan gerrymandering. This
could be a precedent-setting case, since the courts have never before
ruled this sort of thing illegal.
Gerrymandering is as old as America, really. The term was first used in a
newspaper (with the cartoon we all remember from school) in March of 1812.
The Gerry in Gerry-mander was Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry. He
had approved a district with wide-flung geographic borders (which looked,
to the cartoonist, like a salamander), to benefit his own political party.
The Ninth Circuit strikes down Trumps travel ban (again)
At first glance, this doesnt seem to be all that newsworthy. After all, it
just continues the losing streak Trumps travel ban (or, as he likes to
call it, the TRAVEL BAN) has been having in the courts so far. Whats one
more ruling after weve already had so many which have denied Trump his
This ruling was different in a number of ways, which is why its worth
discussing. Every other ruling up to this point has addressed the
constitutionality of Trumps stated goal to institute a complete ban on
Muslims entering the country. Such religious discrimination by the federal
government is patently unconstitutional, no matter how hard Trumps lawyers
tried to cram that bias into an executive order which could be considered
legal. This time around, however, the Ninth Circuit judges (the ruling was
from a three-judge panel, not the whole court) skipped over all of that
and ruled that an injunction against Trump that was issued as a result of
a case from Hawaii should be largely upheld, because Trump didnt provide
enough information to support his stated reasoning.
Its the equivalent of an umpire ruling that a run didnt count because the
runner failed to touch second base, to use a sports metaphor. Trumps
second travel ban tried to make his case on national security grounds, but
failed to provide any evidence or findings that backed this case up. In
fact, there was evidence from the government that was completely
contradictory to the claims Trumps executive order claimed, as the ruling
pointed out. [Note: these excerpts are taken from the PDF version of the
court ruling, which refers to Trumps initial executive order (the first
travel ban that was overturned) as EO1, and his second executive order as
It went on to further note that over the past 15 years, only four
nationals from the six designated countries have been convicted of
attempting or plotting a terrorist attack in the United States, and that
of the twelve people who succeeded in carrying out fatal domestic terror
attacks since 9/11, none of them came from the six countries Trump banned.
Therefore, Trumps second travel ban does not provide a rationale
explaining why permitting entry of nationals from the six designated
countries under current protocols would be detrimental to the interests of
the United States.
They didnt touch second, in other words. There were no findings of fact,
there was no proof offered, and the Department of Homeland Security even
admitted how weak Trumps case was. This does open the door for a third
travel ban executive order (one with the requisite findings), but its
doubtful Trump will take another bite at this apple.
Before I get to why, there was one interesting footnote in the ruling.
This may be the first time a Trump tweet was used against him in a court
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