When the Trump era is written about in history books — assuming we survive that long — if there are any heroes in this sordid story, those heroes will be federal judges.
You may recall that in July, Trump tweeted that “the United States government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military,” without even consulting the Defense Department.
And now a judge has told him, “Nope. You don’t get to decree major policy shifts while sitting on the toilet playing with Twitter.” (Note: The judge did not use these exact words.)
On Oct. 30 (Halloween Eve, or “Devil’s Night” as we in the Detroit area call it), Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, a district judge in Washington, D.C., blocked the Trump administration’s ban on transgender servicemembers. Because of her ruling, the trans-troop ban is dead and, unless it comes back to life (as many of the Trump administration’s terrible policies tend to do after defeat), “openly trans people could begin joining the military on Jan. 1,” according to NPR.
“This is a complete victory for our plaintiffs and all transgender servicemembers, who are now once again able to serve on equal terms and without the threat of being discharged,” Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said in a statement.
But before you get too excited, let’s not forget who is currently appointing federal judges: Donald Trump. And that does not bode well for our future. The people he is appointing are extreme in the extreme. And these are lifetime appointments. We’re talking decades of right-wing rule. The likelihood of these judges acting as a check on abuse of power by fellow right-wingers? Nil.
Peter Montgomery, a senior fellow at People For the American Way, writing for Huffington Post, puts it this way: “In the past, when elected or appointed officials have abused the power of their office to impose their religious beliefs on others in ways that harm them, we have counted on the federal courts to uphold constitutional principles. That’s why it is so potentially damaging to have the Senate approve judicial nominees who see the courts, as right-wing activists do, as an instrument for imposing their religious and political views about morality and the Constitution.”
In other words, we’re at the mercy of the U.S. Senate to respect the rule of law enough not to approve these picks. And as you’ll recall, the Senate Majority Leader is Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the same guy who literally stole a Supreme Court pick from President Obama. In other other words, we’re fucked.
Right now the only thing saving us is Trump’s sheer incompetence.
According to Ian Millhiser of Think Progress, “Trump keeps losing in court because he’s a bumbling goon.”
This, of course, should comfort no one.
We desperately need to elect Democrats to act as a real check on Trump’s insanity. Because Republicans sure as hell aren’t going to do anything.
Case in point: Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore has called for Kollar-Kotelly to “be impeached by the House of Representatives for unlawful usurpation of power.” This coming from a guy who used to be the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court but was given the boot when he refused to remove a 10 Commandments monument.
Moore is perhaps the most extreme candidate currently running, but he’s hardly an outlier with today’s Republican Party.
Just another in a long list of why voting matters. Elections have far-reaching consequences, and we don’t even know how long the reach of Trump will be, but we know he will grab as much power as he can, along with other words that begin with “p” that he has no business touching.
Voting is literally self-defense in Trump’s America. So go kick some ass.
D’Anne Witkowski is a poet, writer and comedian living in Michigan with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBT politics for over a decade. Follow her on Twitter @MamaDWitkowski.