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Legal boundaries to US presidential powers

China Daily | Updated: 2017-02-10 07:59

Legal boundaries to US presidential powers

US President Donald Trump speaks while signing executive orders at the White House in Washington January 24, 2017. [Photo/Agencies]

US PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP on Wednesday defended his travel ban on the citizens of seven predominantly Muslim nations, arguing that his legal authority to limit immigration should not be challenged in courts. Beijing News commented on Thursday:

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, which has denied the US Justice Department's request for an immediate reinstatement of Trump's travel ban, is expected to release its ruling this week. In all likelihood, the case will head to the United States Supreme Court because neither side is inclined to give in.

The court's denial of an immediate stay means the legal battle is likely to last for days at least, marking a major setback for the Trump administration which has accused a federal judge in Seattle of overstepping the president's authority by temporarily blocking the ban nationwide.

Should the Department of Justice confront federal judges, the case will go beyond an executive order or the power of federal judges, as it would raise concerns about whether or not the country is still subject to checks and balances.

More important, Trump's travel ban involves not just domestic politics but also foreign policy. Critics said the controversial executive order, which was focused on certain Muslim-majority countries, infringes the constitutional ban on religious discrimination.

What Trump wants from the federal appeals court is reinstatement of his travel ban, which was temporarily suspended in compliance with the order of US District Judge James Robart. But referring Robart as a "so-called judge" on Twitter puts Trump on the fringe of breaching the rule of law and defying the federal judicial system, as some claim.

Admittedly, Trump's travel ban was already in deliberation when his predecessor Barack Obama was in office, and it has been granted congressional authorization. But it has been Trump's incompetent decision-making and inflexible responses to the ensuing legal conflicts that caused all the mess. Hopefully he will learn a thing or two about the boundaries of presidential powers.

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