In America, The Judiciary is a Barrier to Tyranny

By Sherman Jackson, PhD

“Fortunately, we have in America a system of checks and balances, within that system is the power of judicial review.”

Listen up America, be careful of what you wish for, you may have gotten it in the personality of Donald Trump.  During the 2016 election, Trump campaigned on the slogan” Let’s Make America Great Again”.  The implication was that America in its present stage was not great.  As a result. Trump was elected despite the many lies he told and conned his supporters in believing those fabrications. Since his inauguration, Trump has continued to lie or embellish the truth.  For example, he and staff have stated his inauguration was attended by the largest crowd in history.  This was sheer fabrication.  When it was reported that Hillary Clinton had a larger popular vote margin by over 3 million, Trump contended that between 3 to 5 millions were fraudulent voters. There was no concrete evidence provided by state election officials to support Trump’s allegations of voter fraud.  Before his inauguration and after, Trump has been at odds with his own intelligent agencies and the media.  He has charged there is a conspiracy to delegitimize his presidency.


Ironically, for five years, Trump was the leader of the birther movement that attempted to delegitimize the presidency of Barrack Obama.  So it is somewhat understandable why he is paranoid when critics question his administration. Since he has been in office, opponents and critics have questioned both his mental stage and veracity.  Democratic Senator Al Fraken of Minnesota, has stated some of his Republican colleagues are questioning Trump’s mental status. Charles Schumer, Minority Senate leader, has described Trump as delusional and a pathological liar.  One does not become a pathological liar overnight.  It takes years of practice to become successful. As a business man, lying was a standard part of Trump’s method of operation.  We witnessed that as a candidate, and now he is using it in the White House.  When he does not get his way, he is quick to use adjectives in an attempt to delegitimize individuals.  He referred to James Robart Chambers, who was federally appointed by former President George H. W. Bush, as  “a so called judge’ because Chambers had ruled against his executive order on immigration.  He has called published events “fake news” or the failure of the press to report on real issues. This has prompted CBS News to observe:

 “Trump is divorced from reality. He says things that are imaginary or fabricated.” 

Trump has great admiration and affinity for Vladimir Putin and other dictators because he would like to transform our democratic system into an autocratic system, in the manner in which he conducted business en route to “alleged billions.”    Democracy does not exist in companies that are privately owned and operated.

In 16th Century Italy, Niccolo Machiavelli wrote a political treatise, The Prince, which analyzed how one could achieve and  “maintain political power. Through the years, based on one’s method of operation, it has become known as Machiavellian, “the end justifies the means.”  Trump’s mode of operation is very  Machiavellian. Fortunately, there is in America a system of checks and balances, within that system is the power of judicial review.

Recently, Stephen Miller, senior adviser to Trump, said Congress had given to the President exclusive authority to determine the status of who can come into America. That power is not reviewable. Miller was immediately congratulated by Trump for representing him so well.

Fortunately, we have in America a system of checks and balances, within that system is the power of judicial review. Somehow the Trump people know very little about constitutional history. Otherwise, they would have understood what Alexis de Tocqueville  meant ,in Democracy in America, 1831, “The power of judicial review is one the best barriers against tyranny.” Once Trump questioned Hillary’s health status and deflected any focus on himself.  Today, his mental state and credibility are questioned as he and staff attempt to circumvent the democratic process through a continuous flood of alternative facts and inaccuracies.

Sherman Jackson, Ph.D. American Constitutional History and Law Professor Emeritus, Miami University

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