The U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C., in October 2018.

The U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C., in October 2018. Credit: AP/J. David Ake

If you can’t trust the courts, who can you trust? Nobody. So don’t trust anybody ever again, because if a court gets a case concerning President Donald Trump that provides an illicit means of getting him, it very well may do it.

Well, not every court, but as one example, a federal judge in Alaska said Trump could not free up land for oil drilling, citing reasons pretty much the opposite of what the law says.

President Barack Obama did not have the authority to permanently stop drilling in millions of acres of Alaska and the eastern seaboard but the court said he did. Environmental groups that sued to overturn the Trump order did not have proper standing to sue. The groups said Trump wasn’t permitted to act without Congress saying OK, but that’s false. Even though the law says the D.C. Court of Appeals should hear any such cases, that is not what happened.

A Wall Street Journal editorial, after outlining all of these facts and more, tells us that “liberals are using the courts to lock in Barack Obama’s legacy even as they howl about a supposedly imperial Trump presidency,” and yes, I will go along with that. But the words do not go far enough. What’s been happening is an assault on justice, converting courts into political machines, a dive into shame.

Another illustration of that was how some courts did not want Trump exercising a clear right: deciding whether there might be circumstances requiring the denial of entry into the United States by people from countries brimming with violent hatred. True enough, some initial plans for a crackdown were not particularly well-formulated, but things got better and a main purpose was to encourage improved vetting. It didn’t matter to judges who told us that things Trump had said during his campaign made him a villain you could not trust.

A phony assertion was that Trump was working to ban entry of all and any Muslims. But, while the evidence of that was not really evidence at all, the idea so easily penetrated some minds that some courts ruled against him. The Supreme Court set things right, but every direction you look there remain judges who think they are gods, free to do anything their high and mighty visions urge even if they are actually vengeful human beings. And thus we also had, as still another example, the ruling that Trump was not permitted to reverse Obama’s executive order on not deporting Dreamers even though he was permitted to do so by law.

The use of courts to get Trump is not all that different from tactics used in other branches of government to get him, not the least being the Russian collusion investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller based on absolutely nothing. In the end, Mueller was honest, but the Trump administration must keep up its fight to make America reliable again. One means toward that end has been to put two outstanding constitutionalists on the Supreme Court.

Thanks to an excellent performance by Republicans in the Senate, we’re also seeing numerous federal judges get appointed in numbers large enough to make a hefty difference over time. The thing about Republicans, at least some of them, is that too many tend to see the Constitution as lastingly respectable, still in tune with justice and reality, and not something that you reduce to vague principles that can be twisted and turned to mean whatever you want them to.

Along with others, I do happen to think we should find ways to give Dreamers a chance, for instance, and congressional Democrats had a chance to do just that. But when you start destroying our system of government to achieve the ends you seek, you are no longer giving America a chance.

Jay Ambrose is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service.

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