Adam Liptak writes at The New York Times:
In quick succession on Wednesday night, federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland blocked President Trump’s revised travel ban. They said statements Mr. Trump had made as a presidential candidate, including his call for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” helped doom the executive order.
The judges said Mr. Trump’s promises to impose a “Muslim ban” were too telling and categorical to be ignored. “Simply because a decision maker made the statements during a campaign does not wipe them” from judicial memory, wrote Judge Theodore D. Chuang of Federal District Court in Maryland.
Outside the context of Mr. Trump’s two travel bans, few judicial rulings have addressed how much weight courts may put on statements from political candidates. Even informal remarks from sitting government officials are often ignored by courts, which can be reluctant to conduct what the Supreme Court has called “judicial psychoanalysis.”
But decisions about religious discrimination allow courts to consider government officials’ real purposes, even if their stated ones are neutral.
The Supreme Court has said judges may not turn a blind eye to the context in which government policies on religion arose. “Reasonable observers have reasonable memories,” Justice David H. Souter wrote in a leading religion case.John Wagner and Matt Zapotosky write at The Washington Post:
Trump boosters say his freewheeling rhetoric, in person and on social media, is a large part of his appeal and has kept him in good stead with his political base. But it is also making governing more challenging.Julie Pace writes at AP:
In recent weeks, Trump has pledged that he would provide “insurance for everybody” at a lower cost, setting an impossible standard for congressional Republicans as they seek to craft a bill to scale back Obama’s signature health-care law.
And Trump’s allegations on Twitter — without citing any evidence — that Obama wiretapped Trump Tower last year has eaten up investigative resources in Congress and chipped away at his credibility among GOP leaders key to advancing the president’s ambitious agenda.
But perhaps nowhere have Trump’s words been as damaging as his attempts to implement the travel ban — which may have been damaged further by Trump’s remarks at his Nashville rally. Trump inflamed controversy during the campaign by calling for a temporary ban on all foreign Muslims from entering the United States, then later shifted to vague pledges to ban people from countries with a history of Islamist terrorism.
“I am sure that challengers will use the president’s comments last night as further evidence that the true intent of his executive order is to bar Muslim immigration,” said Stephen W. Yale-Loehr, a professor of immigration law at Cornell Law School.
Trump is unaccustomed to being held accountable for his words.
As a real estate mogul and reality TV star, he thrived on over-the-top claims and attention-getting hype. His approach, honed through decades working with New York tabloids, deeply frustrated his political rivals during the presidential campaign and sent fact-checkers into overdrive. His campaign advisers responded by encouraging voters and the media to take him seriously, but not literally.
But that's not an option for the president of the United States. His words can move financial markets, reassure or unnerve allies, quiet or antagonize opponents, set the direction for administration policy and — as Trump saw this week — carry significant legal weight.