Stephen Miller,. (Photo: Andrew Harrer/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images)
Donald Trump liked what he saw in adviser Stephen Miller’s appearances on the February 12 Sunday morning talk show circuit:
“Congratulations Stephen Miller—on representing me this morning on the various Sunday morning shows. Great job!” Trump tweeted, as the world pondered North Korea’s missile test.
Question: What had the 31-year-old Miller—a non-lawyer who had been Jeff Sessions’ communications director before joining the Trump campaign—done to deserve such praise from his boss?
Answer: Betray a tragic ignorance of the U.S. Constitution while continuing Trump’s assault on the judiciary.
And he majored in political science at Duke!
“There’s no such thing as judicial supremacy,” Miller told NBC’s Chuck Todd.
“The judiciary is not supreme,” he said to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.
“We have a judiciary that has taken far too much power and become in many cases a supreme branch of government,” Miller explained to CBS’s John Dickerson. Then came his most chilling line: “The end result of this, though, is that our opponents, the media and the whole world will soon see as we begin to take further actions, that the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned.”
That’s Third World dictator-type rhetoric coming from a top presidential adviser. No competent attorney who cared about the U.S. Constitution could have vetted Miller’s talking points. Judicial review and the power of federal judges to invalidate unconstitutional executive and legislative actions date to the early years of the republic.
Where Are the Lawyers?
The principle is not negotiable. Perhaps some of Trump’s key advisers with law degrees could tell him. There are plenty to choose from: Vice-President Mike Pence (J.D., ’86, Indiana University), Kellyanne Conway (J.D., ’92, George Washington University), Jared Kushner (J.D.’07, NYU), Reince Priebus (J.D., ’98, University of Miami), White House counsel Donald McGahn II (J.D, ’94, Widener University Law School), and many more. But that would require telling Trump something that he doesn’t want to hear.
Trump and his key advisers swore an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States. It’s time for someone to conduct a brief in-house seminar on its key principles. I’ll bet the attorneys who attended could even get continuing legal education credit for it.