Re: “To president or not to president” by Paul Moomjean, VC Reporter, July 5

One of the things that makes this country great is the fact that the Constitution of the United States protects a right of free speech.  Thus, each of us has the right to an opinion.  But that doesn’t make every opinion right.  And most people would agree that opinions that are not based on true facts are suspect.  After all, isn’t this what the whole “fake news” debate is all about?

And so, I was surprised to read “To president or not to president” by Paul Moomjean in the 7/5/18 edition of the VC Reporter. The VC Reporter gave Mr. Moomjean a half-page to disseminate an opinion laced with and, perhaps, based upon inaccuracies. Some Americans, at least, try to be responsible citizens by distinguishing between facts and propaganda, and this piece is a disservice to those citizens. Whether presented as “reporting” (as in “reporting the facts”) or as “opinion,” it should matter to the VC Reporter if what it says is inaccurate.

Mr. Moomjean says, “At the heart of Trump’s legislation is the 90-day ban on entry into the United States of citizens from seven countries.” Well, first, the ban was achieved through a Presidential Proclamation (Presidential Proclamation #9645, issued 9/24/17). Anyone who took a civics class in junior high school learned that presidential orders, proclamations, etc., are not legislation. Legislation is the work product of the legislative branch of government, not the executive branch. Next, there is nothing in Presidential Proclamation #9645 about a 90-day ban.  The Proclamation does not specify ANY time limit. Thus, one wonders whether, before writing his opinion, Mr. Moomjean bothered to read the document on which he presented himself as an authority. And I can understand why he may not have read it.  The Proclamation is 6,000 words long.

Next, Mr. Moomjean writes, “While many liberals can scream that the bias is clear, the court looks at laws, not necessarily intent or outside statements.” First, I don’t even understand this statement. When reviewing a case previously decided by a lower federal court or a state supreme court, the Supreme Court considers the decision made by the lower court and whether that decision conflicts with the Constitution of the United States or federal law. If the facts and circumstances of the case are relevant to the Constitution of the United States or federal law, the Supreme Court will consider those facts and circumstances.

Putting aside other tidbits of misinformation or misdirection that I find in Mr. Moomjean’s piece, the most important problem is that it misses entirely the point (or truth) of the Supreme Court case that upheld Trump’s travel ban. That case (Trump, et al. v. Hawaii, et al.) concerned the scope of presidential power arising under the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. Thus, the recent Supreme Court case that upheld Trump’s travel ban concerns and speaks about the scope of power given to the president by this federal statute, not to some vague, broad, inferred, implied or inherent presidential power, and this fact is entirely lost upon or ignored by Mr. Moomjean. And it’s an important distinction because a statute enacted by the legislature can be modified by the legislature. In contrast, a power established by the Constitution of the United States cannot be modified by the legislature.

I understand that it’s work — actual work — to read something before you present yourself as an authority on it. (For example, the Presidential Proclamation is just over 6,500 words long and the Supreme Court case, including both concurring and dissenting opinions, is 87 pages long.) But that’s always our choice, isn’t it? Each of us chooses to have an opinion that’s based on facts or to have an opinion that’s based on something other than facts.

Traditionally, the fourth estate has been deemed essential to a representative democracy because the press informs the people, the citizens who elect those who represent us in government. But the press has a responsibility to be as accurate as possible in its communications. I don’t think that that goal was achieved when the VC Reporter published “To President or not to President.”

For those who are not afraid of work: Mr. Moomjean’s piece focuses on the U.S. Supreme Court case of Trump, et al. v. Hawaii, et al., which upheld a travel ban instituted by President Trump.  That case can be found here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/17pdf/17-965_h315.pdf

The Trump v. Hawaii case discusses Presidential Proclamation #9645, which can be found here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/presidential-proclamation-enhancing-vetting-capabilities-processes-detecting-attempted-entry-united-states-terrorists-public-safety-threats/

The case also discusses the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which can be found here: http://library.uwb.edu/Static/USimmigration/1965_immigration_and_nationality_act.html

Gregory Fast is a resident of Oxnard.