The brilliant liberal legal scholar, Professor Jonathan Turley, likely feels like he’s living in an alternate universe because he’s been forced to side with President Trump on several occasions over the last few months.
Turley, unlike many other liberals, is intellectually honest and works hard to apply a consistent legal philosophy no matter what issue he faces. This penchant for honesty has gotten him in trouble recently as he’s defended President Trump’s position on various controversial issues. It’s not that Turley agrees with the President about these things, it’s that he doesn’t believe that the President has acted unconstitutionally on these issues.
The latest such example has to do with the President’s threat to defund “Sanctuary Cities” for refusing to abide by and enforce federal law.
President Trump issued an Executive Order that didn’t actually “do” anything, it simply demands that state and local governments follow the law… but the judge decided that the President telling the nation to obey the law is unconstitutional. I kid you not…
A showboating federal judge in San Francisco has issued an injunction against President Trump’s executive order cutting off federal funds from so-called sanctuary cities. The ruling distorts the E.O. beyond recognition, accusing the president of usurping legislative authority despite the order’s express adherence to “existing law.” Moreover, undeterred by the inconvenience that the order has not been enforced, the activist court — better to say, the fantasist court — dreams up harms that might befall San Francisco and Santa Clara, the sanctuary jurisdictions behind the suit, if it were enforced. The court thus flouts the standing doctrine, which limits judicial authority to actual controversies involving concrete, non-speculative harms…
Orrick acknowledges that he is adopting the construction of the E.O. urged by the Trump Justice Department, which maintains that the order does nothing more than call for the enforcement of already existing law.
Professor Turley was similarly surprised that the judge would attack this order as he explained in a piece for the Hill:
On its face, these cases were premature under governing precedent. The administration has not designated a single city to be in violation of the order and has not indicated how it will adjust or deny federal grants. While challengers may succeed in bagging another Trump order in the courts, this is a bit too quick on the trigger like some “buck fever” hunter jumping at the first movement in brush…
Despite my admiration for Judge Orrick as a jurist, he may have gotten a bit ahead of his skis on issuing the preliminary order on this record.
Adding to this concern is Orrick’s reliance (as with prior judges in the immigration cases) on the public statements of Trump…
In the end, timing is everything in constitutional law. For that reason, this injunction seems more premature than preliminary in nature.
Turley went further in an interview with Martha MacCallum on Fox News:
“President Trump could and would wisely wait for Congress to put conditions on the next round of grants, which are just around the corner. I think Congress could do that. I think that is where I disagree with the judge’s analysis… I think the court is off base in terms of granting a preliminary injunction at this stage,” Turley told MacCallum. Later, Turley criticized Trump and seemed to blame the President for the judge’s bad ruling by arguing that Trump needed to be more careful about how he spoke of his opponents (particularly in the courts). “This impulse to strike back at this individual judge is not healthy. You can’t be at war with every institution, the press, the courts. Sometimes, cases are filed where the controversy is. There is a controversy here. He himself has criticized California cities for being sanctuary cities. I think he has a valid issue that we shouldn’t give you federal grants if you are obstructing rather than supporting our policies. Fine. But those cities are in the Ninth Circuit. So, they have a right to go to court about is where it will be heard.”
Perhaps Turley is right and the President has been imprudent in the way he dialogues with his political opponents, that really should be beside the point when we speak of the law. The courts shouldn’t care about what Trump is saying, they should care about whether or not his actions are in line with our laws. The latest attack on Trump’s executive orders is simply ridiculous, particularly considering that this latest order hadn’t actually impacted anyone yet.