Laurence Tribe: The true cluelessness of Trump's travel ban tweets

Trump pushes travel ban in tweetstorm
Trump pushes travel ban in tweetstorm

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Trump pushes travel ban in tweetstorm 02:30

Story highlights

  • Laurence Tribe: Tweets on travel ban show Trump doesn't get how judicial process works
  • Tribe: They also expose unchanged religious bigotry that underlies his executive orders

Laurence H. Tribe is the Carl M. Loeb University professor and professor of constitutional law at Harvard Law School. Follow him on Twitter @Tribelaw and @ShadowingTrump and @ShallTakeCare.The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN)Donald Trump's tweets in the wake of the London massacre Saturday night have become the subject of much speculation: Will they reduce the administration's chances of victory for its executive order banning travel to the United States from six majority-Muslim countries when the ban is taken up by the Supreme Court?

Laurence H. Tribe
Predictions either way are perilous, but one thing seems clear: It's not the President's return to calling his executive order a "travel ban" rather than a "pause" that matters in the tweets he has sprayed all over the globe.
Many talking heads and tweeters seem to think this particular shift in terminology is somehow fatal to Trump's case because it erases his staff's careful efforts over the past few months to insist that Trump's executive order wasn't a ban on travel and shouldn't be called that. Those who think this are making a mistake.
    The issue before the Supreme Court isn't whether the thing is a travel "ban" or a travel "pause," but whether it's a barely disguised form of religious discrimination, one targeting believers in Islam (even though, of course, not all such believers). Part of what Trump tweeted over the past day or so does indeed bear on that issue.
    How will Trump's travel ban hold up in court?
    How will Trump's travel ban hold up in court?

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      How will Trump's travel ban hold up in court?

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    How will Trump's travel ban hold up in court? 01:37
    For instance, the original version of the order included a pair of provisions giving express priority to minority religions that Trump publicly told groups of Christians was meant to help them, whereas those tell-tale provisions were conspicuously omitted from the version now before the court.
    But now Trump insists in his tweets that the court ought to ignore that difference and admits he went along with the "watered-down" version of the ban, with its less obviously discriminatory cast and with its added due process protections, solely out of what he now claims was an ill-advised concession to "political correctness."
    In making this assertion, and in adding in another tweet he would like the court to render a quick decision that approves the original ban along with the cosmetically improved new version -- the President not only betrays his complete failure to understand how the judicial process works but exposes the unchanged religious bigotry that underlies his order in either of its incarnations.
    In fact, Trump exposed the anti-Islam sentiment underlying his travel ban by the very way he reacted to the London attack: He claimed the attack proved the need for his ban, even though we knew nothing at the time about which nations the attackers were originally from or whether they had ever even visited any of the six countries named in the ban. All we knew was that the murderers may have been Muslims.
    And all this information strengthens the case for the court to uphold the District Court's ruling, as upheld by the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals, suspending implementation of the President's order.