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If the law’s on your side, pound the law. If the facts are on your side, pound the facts. If neither, pound the court decision that sends you back to square one.

This week the United States Supreme Court—not exactly a partisan nuisance—ruled in favor of a Trump administration rule. (Have we got your attention yet?) For some of us, the rule in question seemed like a fair one. Even a proper one.

This is the lede from Tuesday’s Democrat-Gazette story about the court’s decision: “The Supreme Court on Monday allowed President Donald Trump’s administration to put in place new rules making it easier to deny immigrants green cards or admission to the country because they might use food stamps, Medicaid or housing vouchers.”

Because, well, nations have interests, and most nations at most times have self-interest. It’s not selfish to have self-interest. It would be foolish not to.

Should the United States, like every other country, wonder what immigrants can contribute to the cause before they’re let in? Or should we consider if the immigrants in question have a history of living on the public dole?

The Trump administration has its opinion. The nation’s highest court has its opinion, too, although the ruling was only 5 to 4 in favor of common sense. (And you wonder why some of us fought hard for Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch.)

Others have different thoughts. Namely, the chairman of Democratic National Committee, Tom Perez:

“It’s sickening to see the United States Supreme Court rubber-stamp Trump’s extreme, anti-immigrant, xenophobic agenda,” he said. “The conservative justices of the court are allowing the Trump administration to penalize those seeking help and close the door on their aspirations to become a part of and give back to this country as American citizens or residents.”

Wow. There’s a lot to unpack there.

Apparently—according to the DNC—the United States Supreme Court is a rubber-stamp body for Donald Trump’s policies. Who knew? Can it be expected to rubber-stamp other laws now? And why, after three years, has it suddenly become a toy parliament? Or could the DNC be practicing a little hyperbole in its press releases? Or a lot?

Is the court really penalizing those seeking help—or just allowing a chief executive to act as a chief executive? And allowing a country to act as a country; that is, allowing it to decide who gets across its borders?

As far as allowing people to “give back” to this country “as American citizens or residents,” that may be the whole point. Some of us would like to be assured immigrants can give back before they’re granted keys to the kingdom.

When he announced the proposed changes over the summer, President Trump said, “to protect benefits for American citizens, immigrants must be financially self-sufficient.” We’d like to see the national polls on that question, if any exist. We imagine the president’s numbers would not be underwater on this particular issue.

Self-sufficiency is not a new American virtue. This value did not originate with the Trump administration. It has been around since before there was an American government.

In the spring of 1609, John Smith told the colonists of Jamestown: “You must obey this now for a law, that he that will not work shall not eat (except by sickness he be disabled). For the labors of 30 or 40 honest and industrious men shall not be consumed to maintain 150 idle loiterers.”

You see, this thinking predated the 2016 election.

Buried several paragraphs down in all the stories about this case, you can find more court intrigue that has nothing to do with immigration. Conservative justices Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas wrote in their opinions that “gamesmanship and chaos” come with certain rulings, especially when lower court judges make decisions on their particular cases—then impose national injunctions. It only takes one judge to put the brakes on national policy, as the Trump administration pointed out during arguments.

From the newspaper reports: “Noting that there are 94 [federal] judicial districts and 12 regional courts of appeal, Gorsuch suggested that plaintiffs only needed to win once in any of them to halt a federal policy, while the government faces ‘the long odds’ of winning over all of them.”

Meaning any one activist judge can halt everything. It seems to always have been such.

The best comment we heard about this matter might have come from Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, who favored Monday’s court ruling: “I hope some of these activist district court judges finally get the message that they need to deal with the law, not their policy preferences. If they want to do that, get out and run for Congress.”

Well said.

Print Headline: Supreme Court’s turn

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