Welcome to the age of presidential sabotage. Since assuming office, President Donald J Trump has shown little inclination to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed”, as commanded by the US constitution. Instead, he has openly declared his intention to wreak havoc in key programs.
He has appointed officials known to be sworn enemies of their own agencies. He has gutted protections for students, consumers, women, workers, and the environment. And he has threatened to inflict staggering damage on US insurance markets – unless opponents bend to his will and repeal the Affordable Care Act.
But nowhere has Trump proved more effective at undermining federal programs than his own executive orders. There, wielding his Twitter handle like a doomsday device, Trump has displayed an unparalleled flair for self-sabotage. This will hold true, however, only if courts recognize that Trump’s statements must be taken seriously.
“Exhibit A,” of course, is the widely reviled travel ban, which has been blocked by federal courts largely on the basis of Trump’s own animus-laden statements. After repeatedly expressing the prejudice that birthed this policy, Trump has struggled, and failed, to escape his own words.
On Tuesday, Trump’s prior remarks struck again. Citing the president’s televised threat to punish California, a federal judge blocked Trump’s order to strip “sanctuary cities” of federal funds unless they capitulate to his demand that they cooperate with federal immigration officials. (Sanctuary cities are jurisdictions that limit their cooperation with the federal government when it comes to…
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