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Letter: It's time to remove ideological blinders

In a letter published in The Forum April 2nd, Austin Culp complains about lawlessness he says is "undermining existing law and the Constitution itself." Culp offers too many unsupported accusations to cover here, but I'll attempt to address a cou...

In a letter published in The Forum April 2nd, Austin Culp complains about lawlessness he says is "undermining existing law and the Constitution itself." Culp offers too many unsupported accusations to cover here, but I'll attempt to address a couple important ones. First, Culp decries judges who "rule with no regard to the Constitution or to written law at all." Given recent news, I assume he is referring to the numerous courts which have issued orders prohibiting President Trump's travel bans from being implemented. I get the feeling that Culp has neither read these opinions nor done his homework on the role of American courts. The Constitution that he purports to care so much about prohibits laws singling-out members of a particular religion for preferential or discriminatory treatment.

Whether Culp agrees or not, almost every judge to have considered Trump's bans has concluded that they likely do discriminate against Muslims on account of their faith. In addition, as Culp surely knows, the Constitution guarantees due process and equal treatment. Once again, almost every judge to have considered the bans has determined that they likely do violate those most basic of civil liberties. These are not indications of a vast judicial conspiracy targeting Trump. Instead, these are the considered judgments of jurists who have devoted their lives to upholding the Constitution and the rule of law.

Second, Culp accuses "mayors, sheriffs and police chiefs all over the country" of acting "to subvert federal immigration law." The key word here is "federal." As a conservative, Culp surely subscribes to the idea that power should be diffused among state and local governments in order to prevent tyranny. Yet, he believes that local officials have a legal duty to enforce federal law?

Local officials have no such duty. In fact, the Constitution forbids the federal government from ordering local or state governments to carry out federal laws. Moreover, many police and sheriffs departments believe that enforcing federal immigration law makes their jobs more difficult by making victims and witnesses less likely to cooperate with law enforcement for fear of deportation.

In a time of ever-increasing partisan division, it may be tempting to simply oppose everything the "other guys" do while supporting "my guys" no matter what. However, that partisan instinct undermines the credibility of those engaging in it and makes it politically more difficult for lawmakers to find consensus. In the end, good governance suffers and no progress is made for the American people. To avoid that result, I urge Culp and those like him to remove their ideological blinders and commit to intellectual honesty.

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Thiel is a Moorhead native who now lives in Portland, Ore.

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