No Check, No Balance

by The Cowl Editor on February 16, 2017


by Taylor Godfrey ’19

Asst. Opinion Editor

Isn’t it the worst feeling to get the mail from your mailbox at home and see that envelope with those three words that can ruin your entire day: “official juror summons?” No one likes to go to jury duty, but the courts are a necessary part of life in a democracy and most of us can recognize that fact, even as we bemoan our civic duty. Most of us, that is, except our president.

As the country struggles through this rather long adjustment period to the new presidency, it is becoming increasingly clear that the new leader of our nation is a big fan of executive power. He has issued 12 executive orders in the first three weeks that he has held office. What the president is having more trouble with—and what should be the most concerning—is the complete lack of regard he has shown for the judicial branch.

Trump’s most publicized executive order was his immigration ban, blocking citizens from seven Muslim majority countries from entering the U.S., as well as halting the refugee program. There has been a serious outcry against this ban, and while those protestors are right to be angry, Trump’s response to the backlash and the subsequent judicial reviews is possibly even more concerning than the order itself.

Trump’s administration has shown serious disrespect and even disdain for the United States’ court system. Trump has questioned the authority of a federal judge who ruled against his travel ban as well as belittled the power that the court has over his actions and decisions. Trump may think that winning the presidency means obtaining absolute power over the entire country, but that is not how the government ever has or hopefully ever will function.

Last Thursday, a federal appeals panel denied Trump’s bid to reinstate his travel ban after a federal judge blocked parts of it. According to The New York Times, the decision stated that Trump did have the power to create such executive orders, but he could not claim that “national security concerns are unreviewable, even if those actions potentially contravene constitutional rights and protections.” The courts reaffirmed their right to check presidential power and settle problems of constitutionality.

The Founding Fathers lived under a government that did not listen to them and a single monarch with a great deal of power. They created a three-branch government with a system of checks and balances to avoid the very thing that Trump seems to want. Without these checks, there can be no balance. An unbalanced government is not a government that will help its people, but it might actually hurt its people if it does not follow the rules that have been set down for it.

Without the judiciary, the government would have a single ruler with no checks. Without the judiciary, the United States would not be the democracy for which our founders fought so dearly. Without the judiciary, and especially with a Republican Congress, the role of the president would look a whole lot like a dictatorship.

After the rejection of his ban, the president tweeted, “SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!” and for one of the few times in his campaign or presidency, he was actually right. The courts will and must continue to question and check Trump’s executive orders and actions, because if they do not, the safety of the entire country truly will be at stake.