Liberal Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor reveals an alarming piece of information that should concern all American citizens.
There was a time when the United States Presidency was given the kind of dignity and respect that the highest office of the nation should be treated with. Now, it is as if the sitting President has no concern for democratic values or Presidential procedure. With the number of executive orders President Donald Trump signs and the kind of rhetoric that presently emerges from the White House, there is no surprise that many feel American democracy is slowly dwindling into fascism. According to Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, one of only two liberal, left-leaning Justices, our assumptions may be correct — the Supreme Court has reportedly been granting the Trump administration "extraordinary" favors, Vox reports.
In response to a Supreme Court order that essentially blocked nearly all Central American migrants from being granted asylum in the United States, Justice Sotomayor wrote a "brief but pointed dissent" regarding her stance and the recent slew of Trump-propagated policies coming out of the White House. While the order is a temporary one, she notes that it points towards a bleak and negative prediction for the future of American democracy. Even worse still, Ian Millhiser writing for Vox explains, "As is often the case with such temporary orders, there was no majority opinion — and thus no explanation of why the Court ruled the way it did or even how each member of the Court voted."
And while non-governmental organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union are fighting the temporary order, the Justice notes that it is this asymmetrical access to information and wide disregard for the democratic process that is concerning. In her concluding paragraph, Justice Sotomayor writes: Granting a stay pending appeal should be an “extraordinary” act. Unfortunately, it appears the Government has treated this exceptional mechanism as a new normal. Historically, the Government has made this kind of request rarely; now it does so reflexively. See, [for example], Vladeck, The Solicitor General and the Shadow Docket, 133 Harv. L. Rev. (forthcoming Nov. 2019). Not long ago, the Court resisted the shortcut the Government now invites. I regret that my colleagues have not exercised the same restraint here. I respectfully dissent.
Without a doubt, President Trump has abused his ability to ask the Supreme Court to grant his administration special assistance, thereby intervening in matters that it otherwise would not in order to make passing difficult and problematic legislation easier. Stephen Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas, writes in an article that Trump’s Justice Department has been "far more aggressive" than Justice Departments under his predecessors. He demonstrates, "To take one especially eye-opening statistic, in less than three years, the Solicitor General has filed at least 20 applications for stays in the Supreme Court (including 10 during the October 2018 term alone), [by contrast], during the 16 years of the George W. Bush and Obama Administrations, the Solicitor General filed a total of eight such applications — averaging one every other term."
Therefore, those worried about the Trump administration's fascist tendencies — your worries may not be so misplaced after all. While the current federal government does not always receive special favors from Justices, it is the frequency with which that it does that is most alarming. Because there is no penalty against asking these favors, it comes as no surprise that the administration has such an unbridled authority to do so. But as Millhiser asserts in his conclusion, it is the personal — or perhaps political leaning — bias that is allowed to seep into lawmaking under the Trump administration that is most undemocratic of all. He concludes, "[Some Justices] may be applying one legal regime to regulations they disapprove of, and another, more permissive, legal regime to the Trump administration. If that’s the case, it should worry anyone who cares about the rule of law."