In Case of Emergency, Build Wall?


In Case of Emergency, Build Wall?

January 11, 2019

It was just last week that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) promised the American people that her House would be "bipartisan and unifying." Eight days later, there isn't a scrap of evidence she meant it. After 20 days of waiting at the negotiating table, President Trump is considering going it alone on the border wall. One of the options being tossed around by the White House is declaring a national emergency -- an idea some people think is too far-fetched. But is it? Legal experts say no.

Believe it or not, these types of national emergencies aren't as unusual as you might think. In two years, President Trump has already declared three. Since 1976, when Congress gave the White House that authority, there have been 58 national emergency declarations -- 31 of which, Breitbart's Ken Klukowski explains, are still in effect today. That includes, Ken points out, the very first national emergency from Jimmy Carter on Iran-sponsored terrorism. But is it, I asked him on Thursday's "Washington Watch," a legitimate legal option for the border wall?

"Right now," Ken said, "the president is going the extra mile with Senate Democrats. The law does not require him to negotiate. He is doing so, and I believe he's doing so in good faith -- trying to find a settlement for everyone to save face." But, he went on, "in the event that Pelosi and Schumer continue to dig in their heels... the president has unconditional authority to declare a national emergency about anything."

"Contrary to what you're hearing from partisan Democrats -- and also from hyperventilating media pundits, who are all of the sudden calling themselves legal experts -- the fact that there [have] been 31 of these shows how common it is for presidents to do it. If Trump declares a border emergency, [then]... under [the U.S. code], the secretary of Defense can then order military units -- including the Army Corps of Engineers and the other construction units of the U.S. military -- to direct their personnel and their funding and money and machinery to construction projects... There are billions of dollars that are available to DOD to be able to undertake that project, if the president decides to declare a national emergency."

After all, this is Defense Department money that's already been approved by Congress. The president would simply be redirecting it to another national security crisis: the flood of illegal immigrants, drugs, and criminals crossing the border. And in this case, there's already a precedent for using national emergency declaration to stop the flow of heroin and cocaine into the country. Back in the 1990s, Bill Clinton used the same kind of declaration to deal with narcotics traffickers. As Ken argued in his column, "one of the deadliest drugs killing Americans right now, fentanyl, is made in China -- but fully 85 percent of that lethal drug enters the United States through the Mexican border. Such a declaration would be consistent in scope and effect with many of the 31 current emergencies."

Of course, as with everything this president does, there would almost certainly be lawsuits -- even if it's well within Trump's legal power to act. "The reality," Ken says, "is that you'll always find someone who files a lawsuit... And if you pick the right judicial district, dominated by left-of-center judges, you're running a pretty good odds that you're going to get a judge who dares to go where no judge has gone before... We have seen some federal judges at the trial level act like they are nothing short of the resistance of Donald Trump. We have seen some outrageous judicial activist rulings from federal judges..." Even on issues where the Supreme Court would almost certainly side with the president, there's a good chance the legal battle would put everything on hold for a good "12 or 18 months."

Of course, "Can the president?" and "Should the president?" are two very different questions. Most people, Donald Trump included, would like to solve this problem legislatively. "I would like to do the deal through Congress," he's said. "It makes sense to do the deal through Congress... It would be nice if we can make a deal, but dealing with these people is ridiculous." The longer Democrats refuse to do their jobs, the more creative Republicans will have to get in order to protect America.

For more on the immigration crisis, check out my column in today's Washington Times, "Protecting America's National Home." Also, don't miss my full interview with Ken Klukowski, as he takes a deeper look at the prospects of a national emergency declaration.


Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.


Women's Rights and Wrongs

January 11, 2019

The deadline for ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) passed back in 1982. But that hasn't deterred its latest crop of activists. Down in Virginia, a tag-team of liberal extremists and feminists are joining forces to bring the famous piece of 70s propaganda back from the grave. And this time, they're making it quite clear that the campaign has more to do with abortion than anything else.

At a Richmond press conference of pro-life women yesterday, groups like FRC and Susan B. Anthony called on Virginia leaders to reject the proposal. It's a waste of time, they argued, in a century "where women are already protected as equals in our legislation and the courts." But then, as most Virginia liberals will tell you, this was never really about equality.

"When my rights as a woman [are] dependent on laws, because laws can change as quickly as legislators change their minds, and Supreme Court decisions that allowed me to go to college can always be reversed, but when you enshrine my constitutional rights as a human being equal to men, well, that is the only thing that is acceptable, because amendments do not expire," Prince William Democrat Jennifer Carroll Foy said on the Virginia Assembly floor. And what "rights" are those?

FRC's Director of Life, Culture, and Women's Advocacy, Patrina Mosley, thinks it's obvious. "Women are continually used as props to push an agenda. The ERA is not about women, it is really a smokescreen for abortion," she insisted. Tina Whittington, executive vice president of Students for Life of America agreed, "The only reason to pick the ERA off the dusty floor of history is because of a fierce desire to protect abortion at all costs."

ERA Coalition co-President Jessica Neuwirth fired back that the amendment is "silent" on abortion. But that's by design. The reality, SBA List's Mallory Quigley says, is that the ERA "would alter the Constitution to create a permanent right to abortion on demand, up until the moment of birth, paid for by you and [me], the American taxpayers. It's even more extreme than Roe v. Wade, which in a single day struck down every pro-life law nationwide."

Although FRC legal expert Alexandra McPhee insists that ratifying the ERA is a moot point, enough Virginia legislators sided with the proposal to send it out of committee by a close 8-6 vote. Whether the measure has enough steam to make it through the full Assembly is another story -- one that Virginians can play a part in. Contact your Commonwealth representative and urge them to vote NO on the ERA!


Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.


An American Statesman in Egypt

January 11, 2019

The world is a different place from 2009, when Barack Obama made his first trip to Egypt. When the 44th president stopped at the American University in Cairo, he was just kicking off his apology tour. Ten years later, Secretary Mike Pompeo is on campus, making it quite clear that the only thing America should be apologizing for are the mistakes of the last administration.

"It was here, here in this city," he told the audience, "that another American stood before you. He told you that radical Islamist terrorism does not stem from an ideology. He told you that 9/11 led my country to abandon its ideals, particularly in the Middle East. He told you that the United States and the Muslim world needed, quote, 'a new beginning,' end of quote. The results of these misjudgments have been dire."

Secretary Pompeo ticked off a long list of the Obama administration's mistakes -- including being timid when the world needed strength. "Our eagerness to address only Muslims and not nations ignored the rich diversity of the Middle East and frayed old bonds. It undermined the concept of the nation-state, the building block of international stability. And our desire for peace at any cost led us to strike a deal with Iran, our common enemy."

But, he promised, America has learned from those failures. "We learned when America retreats, chaos often follows; when we neglect our friends, resentment builds; and when we partner with our enemies, they advance. The good news is this. The age of self-inflicted American shame is over, and so are the policies that produced so much needless suffering. Now comes the real 'new beginning.'"

That new beginning, he explained, is helping to lead to a revival of trust, stability, and religious liberty. "New bonds are taking root that were unimaginable until very recently. Who could've believed a few years ago that an Israeli prime minister would visit Muscat? Or that new ties would emerge between Saudi Arabia and Iraq? Or that a Roman Catholic pope would visit this city to meet with Muslim imams and the head of the Coptic faith?" For tens of thousands of men and women of faith, he went on, "Life under ISIS was real hell, a living hell on Earth. Today," he points out, "those areas are liberated, thanks to our coalition's power and might and commitment."

For Pompeo, who's traveled extensively through the Middle East, being in Egypt this month was especially meaningful. "This trip is especially meaningful for me as an evangelical Christian," he told the audience, "coming so soon after the Coptic Church's Christmas celebrations. This is an important time. We're all children of Abraham: Christians, Muslims, Jews."

That recognition, as I know from my trips to Cairo, are not lost on President al-Sisi. The secretary made a point of praising the Egyptian president for his work advancing a fundamental human right barely even acknowledged under Obama. "I also applaud President Sisi's efforts to promote religious freedom, which stands as an example for all leaders and all peoples of the Middle East."

Later, he made a point of telling reporters that when it came to protecting Christians, "America is with them. Christianity is at the heart of the history of this place here in the Middle East. All you have to do is grab a Bible and read the places and the names. Christians have been central to the Middle East. We want to make sure that they continue to have opportunities and freedom and for Christian churches to grow alongside churches of other faiths as well. Our message is simple. We stand for religious freedom every place American diplomacy is at work."


Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.



Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.


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