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Travel ban case clearly important, but moreso is respect for institutions

 
By the Editorial Board
Posted on 2/14/2017, 3:34 PM

It strikes us as somewhat appropriate that we would write on the topic of uncivil debate within a few days of Abraham Lincoln"s birthday.

Lincoln"s presidency began 157 years ago, but the era was like today - angry, divided and turbulent, with politics marked by partisanship, insults and innuendo.

The nation survived that ugly period, but only at the bloody cost of civil war. The issues were transcending, and Lincoln"s positions were forceful, but he conducted himself with restraint, treating his adversaries with respect.

"There are few things wholly evil or wholly good," Lincoln recognized. "Almost everything, especially of governmental policy, is an inseparable compound of the two."

There is room to debate the merits of the Trump Administration"s travel ban. Reasonable people can agree or disagree, in part or in whole. Pointedly, there is nothing wrong with acknowledging that the institutions that define our republic are imperfect.

But the assault on our judiciary, like assaults on our other institutions, is misguided and ultimately dangerous to the country"s welfare.

It is contradictory on one hand to champion the rule of law while on the other to cynically undermine the court system that is central to upholding that rule of law.

Does President Donald Trump"s executive order prompt a constitutional crisis? No. Quite the contrary. The dispute is being litigated, and no matter the outcome, that"s the process our Constitution envisions.

What prompts a constitutional crisis is the President"s political interference, his relentless insults and impulsive carping on the court itself. And the timid acquiescence by most leaders in his party, who fail to challenge his disrespect for the process.

There are even those calling on the president to ignore the ruling of the courts if the verdict doesn"t go his way.

Now, that would be a constitutional crisis. And a disaster for the country.

There is more at stake than the outcome of one case, as Al Gore recognized in accepting a court ruling in 2000 that cost him the presidency.

What makes America great is our faith in it, our belief in the concept of checks and balances, our belief in our institutions, our belief that the system works.

Yes, there are imperfections. Yes, there are needs for reform. But our system does work.

Without faith in it, our greatness slips away.

Without faith, we unravel.