President Donald Trump has prominently displayed the portrait of Andrew Jackson on the Oval Office wall, just behind the Resolute Desk, as a reminder of his ascent to the presidency from an outsider status. Jackson, one of the most controversial and colorful characters in American history, was a political outsider and populist when he became president- and he held the media of his time in disdain. For these reasons, Trump has continually drawn comparisons of himself with the nation’s 7th president, which culminated with his visit to Jackson’s home outside Nashville in March of this year. As a conservative, I have mixed feelings about Andrew Jackson; he rightly opposed expansive judicial overreach and supported limiting the power of central banks, which is good, but he also embraced policies toward Native Americans and others that were radical even in his time.
One area of policy with which President Trump needs to agree with Andrew Jackson is pushing-back against the judicial branch when it intrudes into the prerogatives of the executive. Article II of the Constitution makes clear that the “President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States.” This clause is pretty unambiguous; the President is the Commander-In-Chief of America’s military and, as such, gets to make decisions about military preparedness and readiness. This makes a preliminary injunction issued this week by U.S. Justice Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, a judge for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, all the more baffling.
Justice Kollar-Kotelly assumed the powers of Commander-In-Chief for herself when she decided that she had the unilateral authority to skew the constitutionally established lines of authority between the executive and the judiciary. Kollar-Kotelly has issued a preliminary injunction blocking President Trump’s decision to reverse an Obama-era policy regarding transgender service members in the military. The Judge’s opinion states that “there is absolutely no support for the claim that the ongoing service of transgender people would have any negative effect on the military at all.” Such a statement is wildly subjective, and is more a matter of opinion that established case law. On top of being opinion versus law, it is also an ill-informed opinion given that many current and former military officers support the President’s decision.
Military officers with whom I have spoken believe that the President’s decision with regard to transgender service members ended an exercise in political correctness under the Obama Administration. Congressman Steve Russell (R-OK), a retired Army officer who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, said that the President reversed the “implementation of a policy that does not enhance readiness, forces all Americans to spend taxes on unnecessary elective surgeries, and would force many military physicians, leaders, and counselors to violate rights of conscience protected under the 1st Amendment.” I could not agree more with Congressman Russell, a man who has commanded soldiers under fire in a theater of war.
Regardless of a person’s personal beliefs on transgender service members in the U.S. military, all Americans should be worried about judicial tyranny. Unelected judges in black robes believe that they have the right to reverse the decision of voters, as they did with the Obergefell decision in 2015, the people’s elected legislative officials, as they have done on everything from private property rights to the Defense of Marriage Act, and have usurped the powers of the duly elected President of the United States with regard to military policy. Our Great Republic cannot, and must not, be ruled by judicial imposition. If judges continue to govern the country by court order, then it is impossible to remain a nation with a government of, for, and by the people. I hope President Trump and his military officials simply ignore Judge Kollar-Kotelly’s overreach and make decisions regarding military readiness as they are entitled to do under Article II of the Constitution of the United States.