Constitutional crisis. Just two words, but oh, how they chill the heart. For months now, every poli-sci major without gainful employment has been going in front of every camera with a green light to opine about the impending constitutional Armageddon. And like most of the book-smart-and-street-stupid class, they’re right and wrong at the same time.
Here’s how it is supposed to go. Sometime in the months ahead, Robert Mueller is going to call The $1 store Caligula into the principal’s office. Trump’s “Don’t forget to zip up Mr President” boy, Rudy Giuliani, tells Mueller to go and fuck himself. Mueller catches His Lowness on the 4th tee with a subpoena. Trump wipes his ass with it. The Supreme Court tells Trump to put his big boy pants on, and take his medicine. Trump and Giuliani turn in unison, and flash double barrel moons at the nine national nags in black muumuu’s. Voila! Constitutional crisis.
Talking heads have been predicting this for months now, but always at some ephemeral date in the future, kind of like Mueller’s report. But for those of you who are like kids looking at the presents under the tree, your impatient wait is almost over, and it has noting whatsoever to do with Robert Mueller.
The constitutional crisis will be here in 10 days. And because anything worth doing once is worth doing again, there will be another one 15 days after that. But Robert Mueller won’t be involved, he’ll be busy keeping his head down, and letting Rod Rosenstein do his “warm up band” routine in front of House committees.
Here’s how we get there. Last week, a federal judge in California slapped the Trump administration with an injunction. The injunction ruled that all immigrant children under the age of 5 years old, who have been separated from their parents, must be reunited with their parents within 15 days. All children from ages 5-17 must be reunited with their parents within 30 days. And the clock is ticking.
Predictably, Trump is soiling his cell phone with chicken grease, tweeting his outrage about that uppity judge. But, here’s the important thing. They’re not responding. As we speak, I have heard nothing in the news about Jeff “Radar O’Reilly” Sessions’ DOJ going to court and seeking a temporary restraining order to stay the imnjunction Which means that the order remains in effect, and the clock is ticking.
Look, let’s be honest. Trump’s Health and Human Services couldn’t reunite the blow dryer plug with an outlet. HHS is bragging that they have reunited more than 500 minors with their parents. I call bullshit. My guess is that they’re mixing apples with oranges. What they’re claiming is actually CBP numbers. When parents are stopped at the border on misdemeanor offenses, the children are taken to a shelter while the parents are processed. Once the parents are processed, and given a court date, usually within 72 hours, they are reunited with their children. This is Trump’s favorite chew toy, the dreaded “catch and release” in action. It’s been going on for years, and I strongly suspect that the administration is using those figures to make it look like they’re making massive progress on reuniting families that were separated. Why else would the “official” HHS numbers only drop from 2,053 to 2,047 separated children reunited with their parents in one week. It’s a classic bait-and-switch.
HHS is completely incapable of meeting the deadline, either one of them. And, by all appearances, they aren’t even trying. In 10 days, when the expiration date for the “under 5’s” rolls around, Kirstjen Nielsen is going to paraphrase Blazing Saddles, “Injunctions? We don’t need no steeeenking injunctions!” They’ll blabber about logistics, and transportation issues, and whine that the timeline is unrealistic.
What happens then? The US government will have flagrantly disregarded a legally issued, binding federal court injunction. What’s the next step? Contempt of court? What’s the penalty for that, and how do you enforce it? Do you throw HHS Secretary Alex Azar in the clink, and transport his kids to Boise, Idaho until all immigrant families are reunited? Does congress (hahaha) get involved, and if so, what do they do? What is the penalty when the government willfully disregards a coequal branch of government? Enquiring minds want to know.
And here’s another constitutional crisis brewing on the immediate horizon. The Trump administration is talking about using military bases, including Camp Pendleton in California, to house immigrant families under detention. This means that non criminal, immigrant families, being detained under US civil law, are going to be housed on active US military bases. Surrounded by active duty US soldiers, who will prevent them from attempting to leave. The law of Posse Comitatus forbids US military troops from assisting in domestic law enforcement. The lawsuits practically write themselves for the ACLU and national immigrant rights groups.
So, the long anticipated constitutional crisis is nigh. We’re about to be up to our asses in constitutional crises, and none of them have the least bit to do with Robert Mueller. We’re about to find out just how independent our three coequal branches of government are, and just how strong and durable our constitution actually is. I honestly have no idea how this is going to turn out, but to be perfectly honest, I’m scared to death. And you should be too. The courts have been the one constraining influence on the excesses of the Trump crime family. If those fail, we’re sunk as a nation. To quote Wednesday Addams, “Be afraid. be very afraid.”