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Trump’s True Test of Presidential Power

For President Trump, who is, by his own account, obsessed with ratings, it must be hard for him to see that his job approval is now somewhere below 40%, which is an historic low point for a new president.
After all, Donald J. Trump is used to being a star and the master of his own universe – a small, but very successful family business.
For President Trump, the hard job of governing and being president is probably a much bigger adjustment than he expected.
So far, it has been tough going for President Trump’s bold “American First” agenda. He is discovering that this job is interconnected with other powerful branches of government, which are specifically designed to curtail the excessive exercise of power by the executive branch.
So with his first 100 days almost over and the legislature getting ready to go on break here is the score card:
First Travel Ban thwarted by a Temporary Restraining Order;
Second Travel Ban thwarted by a Temporary Restraining Order; and
Legislation to “repeal and replace Obamacare” has failed to get the support necessary to succeed in Congress, so the bill was pulled before a vote.
President Trump has also proved that he is completely unpredictable, or, as supporters might say, “flexible,” on the foreign policy front.
With his bombing in Syria, his latest “MOAB” bombing in Afghanistan, and his tough tweets on North Korea, it seems that President Trump, unlike Candidate Trump, is willing to get very involved in international affairs.
He is clearly willing to ask our traditional allies to join in, but, if they do not want to lend a hand, he is willing to “go it alone” … even without the support of Congress.
This latest “change of position” probably has many of his supporters wondering what happened to his “America First” agenda. At the same time, it is probably giving his detractors some hope that he is actually beginning to appreciate the complexity of this very challenging job.
The jury is literally still out and several world events could portend disaster for POTUS 45 and his ability to lead and have a successful term in office.
There is, however, one clear long-lasting success he can claim in his first 100 days to satisfy his base.
President Trump has triumphed in appointing U.S. Appeals Court Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court to fill the vacancy left by the death of Antonin Scalia.
So it seems that President Trump’s first 100 days has provided another real life lesson on the importance of the U.S. Supreme Court in our system of checks and balances.
In his confirmation hearings, Judge Gorsuch displayed a certain charm, warmth of personality, and a deep knowledge of the law.  And one other thing that he did not intend… what it means, from a practical sense, to be a true strict constructionist of the U.S. Constitution.
Although Judge Gorsuch clearly has a fine legal mind and impeccable qualifications, he is now in a job where he will shape the lives and define the rights of people for generations to come.
This position is a lifetime appointment and will last far beyond the Trump presidency itself.
The honor of being named an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court comes with its own unique responsibilities and, not unlike the presidency, the profound nature of this job has been known to change those who have filled this role.
This particular judgeship is unlike any other in that the Supreme Court is the court of last resort and, as such, is the final place a citizen can go to seek redress.
So it is important for Americans to understand that the words of a piece of legislation or the Constitution itself may not clearly answer all the questions that may come before this austere body.
Like it or not, the Supreme Court has the power to create the law of land by its decisions. The American citizens who serve in these august positions must be fair, impartial, and, above all, they must be compassionate.
Although the Justices are supposed to be “apolitical,” they are but mere humans and come with all their own life experiences and predispositions. It is, after all, not possible to be completely impartial.

A Justice, in addition to being a scholar of the law, is supposed to be fair and just.

In the job of “interpreting the U.S. Constitution,” it matters whether a judge can see the possibility of a different argument and end racial discrimination; support the rights of women to participate fully in society; protect individuals from government abuse; give defense to those without means; and the list goes on.

This was the goal of the questioning of Judge Gorsuch during the confirmation hearings, to understand the view of his role and more importantly to understand the heart and compassion of a man who will be asked to rule on the toughest decisions in a very divided nation.
The Supreme Court is also the place where the limits of presidential power will be tested.
In his first 100 days, President Trump has shown us that he is willing to test the limits of presidential power first with the Travel Bans and now with the ability to go to war.
The latest Travel Ban is making its way through the courts and could end up before the Supreme Court, where they would have to decide the limits of presidential power – how is the president’s power to protect the American people balanced against the protections of individuals in the U.S. Constitution.
With his latest military actions, it is also possible that the question of how far the president may go, without the approval of Congress, might come before this austere body.
In a situation where the same political party controls both the legislative and executive branches of the U.S. Government, the Supreme Court’s independence is essential and, in some cases, will be the only “check and balance” to preserve our constitutional system.
So, in the end, it might be President Trump who is surprised by Justice Gorsuch if and when the Supreme Court decides on some of these weighty issues.
Jon-Christopher Bua is a White House Correspondent and Political Analyst appearing on-camera and radio via Talk Media News.  Twitter: @JCBua

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About the author

Jon-Christopher Bua

Jon-Christopher Bua is a White House Correspondent and Political Analyst appearing on-camera and radio via Talk Media News. 

He offers his U.S. and Global political analysis on BBC TV, BBC World Service, Euronews, WTOP, C-SPAN, Al Jazeera English, ‘NewsOne Now’ with Roland Martin, LBC 97.3 Radio London, Channel 5 UK, ABC Australia, STV Scotland Tonight and via HuffPostUK Blogs.

A former Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University School of Foreign Service; is now teaching the course “Politics & The Media: An American-Global Perspective; at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

During the Bill Clinton Administration, Jon-Christopher was Communications Director at two Federal Agencies – The Small Business Administration and The Office of Personnel Management and Managing Director for Intergovernmental and Public Affairs at The Overseas Private Investment Corporation. He also ran several Communications and Outreach operations at the Democratic National Committee and in both Clinton-Gore ’92 & ’96 Campaigns.

Jon-Christopher is a Speaker and Media Trainer and moderates, organizes and participates in political roundtables and symposia worldwide.

Jon-Christopher Bua on Twitter: @JCBua