The role of the judiciaryThe dignity of the U.S. judiciary system has gotten an international spotlight after a federal judge issued a temporary nationwide restraining order to prevent the enforcement of U.S. President Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban on citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries.
The decision was made solely by an independent judges’s judgment free of political or ideological considerations. In his extraordinary ruling, Seattle Judge James Robart said that the court “must intervene to fulfill its constitutional role in our tripart government” after hearing from Washington and Minnesota that the president’s order violated the First Amendment on freedom of religion and caused unreasonable harm. To the attorneys defending the presidential order, he said “You’re here arguing on behalf of someone who says we have to protect the U.S. from these individuals coming from these countries, and there’s no support for that.”
He demonstrated both judicial restraint and independence in invalidating Trump’s travel ban. “The work of the court is not to create policy or judge the wisdom of any particular policy promoted by the other two branches... The work of the judiciary, and this court, is limited to ensuring that the actions taken by the other two branches comport with our country’s laws, and more importantly, our Constitution,” he said. Appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush in 2004, Robart is known for conservative legal views. He subtly and unequivocally defined Trump’s policy as unconstitutional.
Trump was enraged by the challenge. He railed a “ridiculous” ruling by the “so-called judge,” claiming he made the jobs for state borders difficult. But state law enforcement authorities affirmed that they will follow the extensive court ruling with the Washington State Attorney General warning Trump that “In our country, no one is above the law and that includes the president.”
We can only envy the independent mechanism of the U.S. judiciary. Groups pro and against the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye over her abuse of power attempt to interfere with court procedures, while the president and other suspects disregard the activities and findings of the law-binding independent counsel.
The Constitution stipulates that a judge must make a ruling based on individual conscience, the Constitution, and laws. Everyone must abide by the Constitution by respecting the independent role of the judiciary.
JoongAng Ilbo, Feb. 7, Page 30