A three-judge appeals court panel led by conservative Frank Easterbrook rebuked Attorney General William Barr and Donald Trump for refusing to follow an order from an immigration judge to allow a refugee to apply for that status. They correctly argue that this undermines the rule of law and the separation of powers and undermines our most basic constitutional principles.
In a jaw-dropping opinion issued by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago on January 23, Judge Frank Easterbrook—a longtime speaker for the conservative Federalist Society and someone whom the late Justice Antonin Scalia favored to replace him on the U.S. Supreme Court—rebuked Attorney General William Barr for declaring in a letter that the court’s decision in an immigration case was “incorrect” and thus dispensable. Barr’s letter was used as justification by the Board of Immigration Appeals (the federal agency that applies immigration laws) to ignore the court’s ruling not to deport a man who had applied for a visa to remain in the country…
“We have never before encountered defiance of a remand order, and we hope never to see it again,” Easterbrook wrote. “Members of the Board must count themselves lucky that Baez-Sanchez has not asked us to hold them in contempt, with all the consequences that possibility entails.”
Given Trump’s record of defiance, Barr’s maneuver is predictable—but it is a shocking break with more than 200 years of constitutional and legal precedent.
Trump and Barr truly believe that his power is without any boundaries. Remember what Trump said about Article 2 of the Constitution means “I have the right to do whatever I want as president.” It says quite the opposite, of course. You can read the full ruling here.