When a federal judges rule against the government, any official implicated in the order, including the president, is supposed to obey ― even if they believe the court’s order is incorrect. President Trump knows it, but he has chosen not to obey the law. Well, the Commonwealth of Virginia will not tolerate Trump’s unlawful conduct.
Late Wednesday night, the state of Virginia asked a federal judge to force President Donald Trump, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and top government officials to show why they shouldn’t be held in contempt for failing to obey a lawful court order, The Huffington Post reported.
The ruling issued Saturday night by U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema of the Eastern District of Virginia required Customs and Border Protection to allow attorneys access to legal permanent residents that CBP had detained at Dulles International Airport as a result of Trump’s executive order blocking people from seven Muslim-majority nations from traveling to the U.S.
Saturday’s court order also forbade CBP from deporting any of the legal permanent residents ― also known as green-card holders ― detained at Dulles for seven days. But CBP did not comply with the court’s order.
To make matters worst, the agency never let attorneys near the people it was detaining. And when Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) and at least four other members of Congress tried to get CBP to comply at various points over the weekend, the agency defied them.
In addition to Trump and CBP, the Department of Homeland Security, DHS chief John Kelly, acting CBP Commissioner Kevin K. McAleenan, Dulles CBP head Wayne Biondi and eight unnamed CBP agents are defendants in the lawsuit, according to The Post. Their “conduct and refusal to account for their actions last weekend suggests disobedience” to the court’s order, Virginia charged in its brief.
“A president can be held in contempt of court,”
“A president can be held in contempt of court,” Adam Winkler, constitutional law expert and law professor at UCLA, told The Huffington Post. “President Clinton was held in contempt of court in 1999 over his false testimony in the Monica Lewinsky scandal. The truly remarkable question we find ourselves asking is whether Trump will follow a court order. Clinton did. But Trump seems to snub his nose at anyone who opposes him. “
On Sunday, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring sent a letter, also submitted to the District Court on Wednesday, to top federal and state officials in which he expresses deep concern about the events at Dulles over the weekend.
“I am particularly troubled that Virginia residents were detained, or returned to the country from which their travel originated, despite having been previously issued lawful permanent residence status or lawful student or work visas,” Herring wrote.
The Department of Justice, which represents the United States and U.S. officials in suits against the government, did not respond to a request late Wednesday for comment. But Trump is unlikely to face consequences for his administration’s failure to comply with the court order, according to one legal expert.
Ben Feuer, chairman of the California Appellate Law Group and a former clerk on the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said of the lawsuit:
“Here’s what’s at stake: How’s the court going to force these officers or punish them?… You could conceive of a situation where the court orders the U.S. marshals to confront these officials and arrest them, the president fires the marshals and hires new officials who will not obey the court order, and then you likely have a constitutional crisis.”
The solution? Impeach Trump.