There is a profound reason why the Founders gave life tenure to federal judges, subject only to impeachment for bad behavior. As Alexander Hamilton explained it in The Federalist No. 78:
“In a monarchy, it is an excellent barrier to the despotism of the prince; in a Republic, it is a no less excellent barrier to the encroachments and oppressions of the representative body…”
Judges subject to the whims of a president or the Congress to keep their jobs would be worthless. So would the Constitution.
The founding wisdom has been confirmed time and again, most famously when the Supreme Court ruled that Richard Nixon was not above the law, and most recently Thursday, when the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal ruled that Donald Trump is not above it either.
Although the effect is only that Trump’s immigration decree remains on hold while the court fully considers his appeal of the District Judge’s order suspending it, the three-judge appellate panel made an enormously important point.
Trump’s lawyers had argued, as the court put it, that his “decisions about immigration policy, particularly when motivated by national security concerns, are unreviewable, even if those actions potentially contravene constitutional rights and protections.” The regime had also claimed, the court said, that “it violates separation of powers for the judiciary to entertain a constitutional challenge to executive actions such as this one.” (Emphasis supplied)
A president in office less than three weeks was asserting the powers of a dictator.
“There is no precedent to support this claimed unreviewability, which runs contrary to the fundamental structure of our constitutional democracy,” the court said.
I hope they’re paying attention in Tallahassee, where some legislators seem to think they too are above the constitution and are trying to take down the state courts that sometimes disagree.
The current attack is led by House Speaker Richard