SocietyWatch

From the May 2017 Trumpet Print Edition

Ninth Circuit Court attempts coup d’état

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals committed a dangerous act of judicial overreach on February 9. After the states of Washington and Minnesota sued United States President Donald Trump on January 30 for an executive order temporarily restricting the flow of refugees from seven countries known for exporting terrorists, a district court judge struck down the president’s order with a restraining order of his own. The judge barred enforcement of the travel ban anywhere in the U.S. until the Trump administration proves there is an actual threat of terrorists traveling into the country from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan and Yemen.

According to Charles Kurzman, a University of North Carolina sociology professor, 23 percent of Muslim-Americans involved with extremist plots since the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center have had family backgrounds from at least one of the seven countries subject to the travel ban.

Even if the judge’s conclusion were correct, however, his order would still be an act of judicial activism. The courts are constitutionally responsible for ruling whether or not it is legal for a president to temporarily suspend immigration. It is not their responsibility to assume the president’s responsibility for deciding whether a particular threat is real.

“A 1952 federal statute permits the president to suspend the immigration status of any person or group whose entry into the United States might impair public health or safety or national security,” wrote Judge Andrew Napolitano for Reason. “Trump exercised that authority in accordance with the 1952 law when he signed his January 27 order banning all immigration from the seven named countries” (February 9).

It is undisputed that America’s president has the legal authority to temporarily ban certain immigrants from entering the country in the face of a national security threat. In fact, President Trump’s six predecessors, including Barack Obama, also used their power to temporarily ban certain groups of immigrants from entering the country. What is really at stake here is who decides which immigrants pose a national security threat. Is it the U.S. president, who receives a daily security briefing and is in charge of enforcing laws? Or is it any federal judge who thinks the president’s assessment is flawed?

The recent ruling by the Ninth Circuit is a judicial coup d’état against the executive branch’s constitutional authority to conduct foreign policy.

U.S. economic freedom hits historic low

The United States is no longer among the world’s top 15 freest economies. According to an annual index released by the Heritage Foundation on February 15, the U.S. has fallen from being the sixth-freest economy in the world when Barack Obama took office in 2009 to being the 17th-freest today.

America’s economic freedom score for 2017 was 75.1 out of 100—its lowest level since the Heritage Foundation started ranking economies in 1995. America now ranks behind Chile, Estonia, Hong Kong, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.

The Heritage economic freedom index is calculated based on 12 factors of economic freedom, including property rights, government spending, freedom from corruption, business freedom, trade freedom and investment freedom. The 2017 report lists large budget deficits, an enormous national debt, a substantial expansion of government bureaucracy and an increased tax burden as contributing to the decline in America’s economic freedom.

Drug killings surge in Mexico

Three police officers were tortured and beheaded in southeastern Mexico in January. Authorities found the decapitated bodies on a roadside in the municipality of Huimanguillo on January 28, a day after the officers had been kidnapped during a routine patrol in the nearby Veracruz municipality. The perpetrators have not been caught, but this was almost certainly a drug cartel attack on Mexican law enforcement.

Between 2007 and 2014, more than 160,000 people were murdered in Mexico, more than the total number of civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. Since the Sinaloa Federation drug cartel started fragmenting into smaller cartels in 2014, the murder rate has grown even worse. Nationwide, January murder rates jumped 34 percent from 1,442 homicides in 2016 to 1,938 homicides in 2017.

It is estimated that 55 percent of all Mexican homicides—and 7 percent of all U.S. homicides—are related to drug trafficking. Over 100,000 foot soldiers work directly for Mexican cartels.

The primary reason these criminal cartels are so successful, however, is that about 10 percent of Americans over the age of 12 are addicted to illicit drugs. This means 24.6 million U.S. drug users are funding a $100 billion per year industry that directly causes over 21,000 overdose deaths and 12,000 drug-related homicides every year.

U.S. President Donald Trump has pledged to “break the back” of the cartels by building a wall on the Mexican border and declaring a war on crime. But with such a voracious demand, there will always be a steady supply.