The world looks on as Trump edges closer to inciting a stalemate between the executive and judicial branches of the US government.
The separation of powers is a crucial principle underpinning the US constitution. The political doctrine adopted by the US insists on a federal government consisting of three branches; the executive, the legislative and the judiciary.
Trump and his cabinet make up the executive branch, Congress make up the legislative branch and the judiciary consists of courts entrusted with defending the Constitution.
These three equally weighted branches have defined abilities to check one another’s powers.
Largely, the three branches collaborate and function effectively but Trump’s public conflict with the judicial branch has potential to result in constitutional crisis.
The fall out has arisen after Trump’s infamous immigration ban was suspended by Seattle federal judge, James Robart.
Judge Robart’s decision came after Washington and Minnesota took legal action against the travel ban, claiming that it was harmful to their interests and most importantly, unconstitutional.
Robart’s ruling suspends the seven-country ban while the two states build their case. The state department is reversing all visa cancellations and homeland security personnel have been instructed to comply with the ruling of the federal judge.
Despite attempts by the Department of Justice to set aside the restraining order on the basis that Robart ‘second-guessed’ the President, the appeal court refused to agree.
At the appeal, Washington and Minnesota also submitted a statement signed by influential national security officials including former CIA director, Leon Panetta, describing the travel ban as ‘dangerous’ and ‘counterproductive’.
True to form, the Trump has taken to Twitter to air his feelings about ‘so-called judge’ Robart.
Unfortunately for the President, unlike acting attorney general Sally Yates, Robart’s role was protected by the founding fathers of the US from interference by the executive.
Only Congress has the power to remove a federal judge through impeachment – the same system used to remove a president. In other words, Trump can’t simply fire him.
Unsurprisingly, Democrat Senators are expressing outrage at the unfolding dispute. Senator Patrick Leahy of the Senate Judiciary Committee said Mr Trump seems ‘intent on precipitating a constitutional crisis’.
Even Republican Senators have broken their silence on the matter: ‘It’s best to avoid criticising judges individually’, said Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell.
Despite wide criticism of his conduct so far, it seems Trump has no interest in ending this dangerous game.