The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has ruled today against Donald Trump’s Muslim ban, which means that refugees, immigrants, green card holders, and legally valid travelers can continue entering the United States from the seven majority-Muslim nations that Trump had tried to target. It’s a victory for the State Attorneys General who led this particular case. It’s also a victory for the ACLU, which earlier initiated legal action against the Muslim ban. But perhaps most importantly in political terms, it’s nothing short of a devastating body blow for Donald Trump, leaving him crippled out of the gate and looking embarrassingly inept.
Donald Trump spent his campaign insisting that he would ban Muslims from entering the United States. And once he took office, he made the Muslim ban the centerpiece of his initial White House agenda. By choosing something so severe and controversial as his first major attempt at flexing his political power, Trump put an extraordinary number of chips down on the gamble. The flood of protesters at airports nationwide, and the series of lower federal court rulings against his Muslim ban, were politically perilous for him. But this Appeals Court ruling, fully rejecting his Muslim ban, is a crippling body blow.
Trump is already angrily tweeting in all caps that he’ll “SEE YOU IN COURT” – seemingly unaware of the irony that he just lost in court – and presumably hinting that he’ll now take the matter to the United States Supreme Court. But the current eight Supreme Court justices are highly unlikely to give him a favorable 5-3 ruling. And if they come up 4-4, it means the Appeals Court ruling will stand against him.
Trump will now double down on trying to get conservative extremist Neil Gorsuch confirmed to the Supreme Court, in the hope of an eventual 5-4 ruling in his favor on the Muslim ban. But as long as Senate Democrats continue standing in the way of Gorsuch’s confirmation, which they can do via filibuster indefinitely, Trump now has no way of reenacting his Muslim ban. It’s dead in the water. And so is his political credibility in the eyes of all involved.
Those Americans who oppose Donald Trump are now emboldened by the fact that he can be defeated. Those Americans who support Trump will be left asking why he wasn’t strong enough to pull off the cornerstone of his agenda, and questioning if he’s as powerful as they had believed. And those unsure about Trump will now view him as an inept loser. While the fight against Trump is still ramping up, those who marched in the streets against him should be dancing in the streets tonight.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report