Letter to the Editor // The People vs. Donald Trump

Photo courtesy of Alan Kennedy-Shaffer


Photo courtesy of Alan Kennedy-Shaffer

President Donald Trump’s extraordinary attack on US District Judge James Robart as a “so-called judge” because he temporarily rendered Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban unenforceable nationwide is an affront to the judiciary and dangerous to democracy. The US Constitution guarantees that no one, not even the president, is above the law. Trump clearly thinks otherwise.

Fortunately, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied Trump’s appeal of Judge Robart’s decision based on his conclusion that courts “must intervene to fulfill [their] constitutional role in our tripartite government.” A fundamental role of the judiciary is to protect Constitutional rights including due process, equal protection, and freedom from religious and racial discrimination.

We filed the first lawsuit in Colorado challenging Trump’s unlawful, unconstitutional, and un-American executive order, on behalf of Libyan college student Zakaria Hagig, because we could not stand by and allow our Muslim sisters and brothers to be persecuted by a president seemingly bent on eviscerating the Constitution and who routinely conducts diplomacy by insult.

We appreciate the tremendous outpouring of support for our client and for all those who, like him, dream of a better future through education, decent wages, and a safe place to live. We stand with all those seeking refuge in our country from religious persecution, racism, sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia.  We applaud the thousands marching, rallying, and speaking out.

Then-Acting Attorney General Sally Yates showed great courage in refusing to defend the blanket ban because she was not “convinced that the Executive Order is lawful,” knowing that she would face the wrath that seems to face all those who dare to speak the truth to Trump.  Her courage helped us to have the courage to go to court the next morning to sue the president.

The Colorado House of Representatives was right to pass a resolution emphasizing that the Jan. 27th executive order “runs counter to the values of this nation enshrined by our founders in the Declaration of Independence, affirmed by our Constitution of the United States and statutory law, and celebrated by many of our national symbols, including the Statue of Liberty.”

Speaker of the House Crisanta Duran, Mayor Michael Hancock, ACLU, ADL, L4GG, and many others here in Colorado, are on the front lines in solidarity with our neighbors from Syria, Libya, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. Too many others, including the Attorney General of Colorado, have stayed silent in the face of unbridled extremism and discrimination.

The court rulings, so far, give us hope and reason to be optimistic that federal courts, and ultimately the United States Supreme Court, will continue to act as the last bulwark in defense of democracy, resisting Trump’s overreach and striking down the executive order once and for all.  The rights and values at stake are far too important to leave to the whim of those arguing that the Seattle judge “improperly second-guessed the president’s national security determinations.”

It is impossible to know what will happen next, because we are in unprecedented territory, but is possible to shape what will happen next to students like Zakaria and refugees from Syria. As millions of people take to the streets, the courts, and the Internet to be part of the movement and the growing fight for human rights, for civil rights, and for women’s rights, we hope that our political leaders will listen to the people and that our judges will preserve the law of the land.

The United States has always been a nation of immigrants. Let’s keep it that way.

Attorneys Alan Kennedy-Shaffer and Morgan L. Carroll represent Zakaria Hagig in Hagig v. Trump. Carroll is a former Colorado State Senate President. Kennedy-Shaffer is a Ph.D. student at CU Denver.

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