I have reason to suspect that the press isn’t exactly thrilled over the Supreme Court upholding President Trump’s travel ban.
When I went to The New York Times home page yesterday morning, I couldn’t even find the original news story on the ruling.
Instead, there was a piece headlined “GOP Blockade of Obama Nominee Pays Off in Rulings.” And a second story: “Sonia Sotomayor Delivers Sharp Dissent Over Ruling.”
The first, striking a common theme in the coverage, says that Mitch McConnell’s decision not to give Merrick Garland a hearing, which led to last year’s confirmation of Neil Gorsuch, led to the 5-4 approval of the travel ban (and a second decision favorable to abortion opponents).
The second played up the liberal justice’s dissent in calling the opinion “harrowing” and “motivated by hostility and animus toward the Muslim faith.”
At The Washington Post, the big piece was “Travel-Ban Ruling Could Embolden Trump in Remaking the U.S. Immigration System”:
“Critics expressed fears that the court’s ruling would embolden Trump to further test the limits of his statutory authority to enforce border-control laws without explicit approval from lawmakers.”(Side note: Didn’t Barack Obama allow 800,000 dreamers to stay in this country “without explicit approval from lawmakers”?)
And this debate over the court is already starting to go nuclear with yesterday’s retirement by Anthony Kennedy, the swing vote on so many issues, as both sides gear up for battle over a Trump nominee who will undoubtedly push the Supremes significantly to the right.
Look, I get why the travel ban—revised after the original one was blocked by the courts—is so controversial, given that it’s aimed at majority Muslim countries. To its critics, the Trump ban seems like a religious test.
And I get why Democrats feel unfairly robbed of a high court seat, given that GOP obstructionism kept the spot open for Gorsuch.
But the tone of the coverage makes clear that what the president called a “tremendous victory” is viewed very differently by most journalists. Some even made comparisons (as Sotomayor did) to the Supreme Court’s infamous approval of Japanese internment camps during World War II.
Now it’s not surprising that the left would denounce the ruling. Slate calls it the “shameful legacy” of the John Roberts court. Salon goes with “Democracy in peril: With the Supreme Court backing down, who will stop Donald Trump?” (But isn’t a case that took a year and a half to wind its way to the nation’s highest court the way democracy is supposed to work?)
Across the spectrum, National Review backed Roberts for vindicating “the authority of the presidency itself,” not what the magazine called Trump’s “sometimes overheated campaign rhetoric.”
In fact, Sotomayor, the first Latino justice, made a point of reading such past Trump comments as: “Islam hates us. We’re having problems with Muslims coming into the country.”
There should be a healthy debate about the travel ban, the president’s controversial approach to immigration, and the court’s role in either enabling or restraining Trump policies.
But keep in mind that Trump openly campaigned on some version of a travel ban. So this is another case of the press being appalled that he’s doing what he promised to do.