Didn’t directly listen to it, but I followed the play-by-play of the court hearing today in WA v. Trump. Fascinating stuff, and Washington State Solicitor General Noah Purcell, who gave the state’s argument, is a damned superhero.
One of the biggest things the argument hinged on: Whether the EO was an unconstitutional direct ban on Muslims. While the text of the EO (as argued by the DOJ’s bumblefuck counsel) doesn’t specifically single them out, there’s plenty of evidence that yep, that’s exactly what this was.
One of the biggest bits of that (which wasn’t directly brought up by Purcell) is the fact that the CBP has been profiling in who they choose to detain. They’re not just stopping people from those seven countries. They’re also stopping people with Arabic names, Muslim religious dress or who were born in or just entered from Muslim-majority countries that aren’t even on the list (one ACLU lawyer reported today being detained/grilled because she’s from Pakistan.) If the people charged with enforcing the EO believe it’s a Muslim ban, then that’s what it is.
Likewise, if you scroll through the Twitter chatter about the subject, it’s also obvious that the people who support the ban also think it applies to Muslims, because they conflate them with terrorists. Which brings me to the other key issue being argued here: Whether there’s a pressing national interest in issuing the EO. And, well, there isn’t. Though there have been a few arrests of people from those countries who were up to no good, and Daesh is active in some, the vast majority of major mass-murder attacks on American soil are not being committed by people from those countries–especially refugees. On the contrary: Most cases of mass murder in this country are committed by white men with a history of domestic violence, stalking, and/or violent sexist rhetoric. Moreover, the few cases of attacks committed by others didn’t involve people from the nations covered by the EO. They were either from other countries (such as Saudi Arabia, in the case of the 9/11 attackers) or were born here and later radicalized. It should also be noted that in the case of the “lone wolf” attackers who happened to be Muslim, most of them also had histories of domestic violence. If we genuinely care about protecting the public from being victims of a surprise mass-murder attack, making sure we take DV and stalking seriously, and get guns out of the hands of people with those histories, will do considerably more than keeping a five-year-old Syrian refugee out of the country.
Of course, what scares me is that if Trump loses this case and the EO gets completely scrubbed, we’re probably looking at a Reichstag fire. Because his massive ego demands it, he’s gunning for absolute power, and a major attack would give him the excuse he needs to get that. Not that I think he or any other Republican would deliberately stage an attack (though honestly, given the other crap coming out of this administration, it’s possible I’m wrong), but I do think they’d ignore intel to let one happen. After all, 9/11 worked to give Bush unquestioning loyalty from a majority of Americans, and won him a second term. Trump would have a harder time with that, but he could still use the whole “united against enemies” boilerplate to declare himself Supreme Leader.
On a more-pleasant note: It fascinated me that at one point, the YouTube stream of the audio from this hearing (it was a conference call) had ~110,000 listeners. The Twitter hashtag for it also went kind of haywire. That, in combination with the other evidence of zeitgeist shift is pretty awesome. People are considerably more engaged with civics now–because it’s directly affecting a lot more of them–and that’s going to present Trump with a formidable opposition. He can try to silence pro media all he wants, but people are now engaged with politics and news on a grassroots level that he has no hope of stamping out–even if he does try to kill Net Neutrality. The fact that virtually the entirety of the tech community opposes him is also evidence that this is an uphill battle for him. They’re not going to do his bidding–not when a massive chunk of the US economy is based on relatively-free internet communication and commerce. This isn’t North Korea. Americans are used to having a free exchange of ideas, and even if he manages to use the FCC to strangle CNN or newspapers or any other pro outlets (not that they’re going to stand for it, either, except the places that are already Trump-branded Pravda), he’s not going to be able to shut the entire population up. We have hackers on our side. We can get past anything if we need to. More importantly, this level of public and political engagement is popular right now. Even people who may have been lulled into complacency by eight years of a popular president facing a recalcitrant Congress (thereby having little movement on either side) are waking up again. Active engagement with actual political reality is the new reality TV, and Trump’s “show” is on the verge of cancellation.