Terror and the 9th Circuit

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President Trump is wasting no time in taking the Europeans to task in the wake of the terrorist bombing that claimed 22 innocent lives at Manchester, England. He wants them to catch up on their contributions to NATO. “Terrorism must be stopped in its tracks or the horror you saw in Manchester and so many other places will continue forever,” Mr. Trump told the Europeans at Brussels. He was echoed by his homeland security secretary, General Kelly, in testimony before Congress today.

Let’s hope the next stop is the 9th United States Circuit Court of Appeals. That’s the circuit where Democratic politicians and their allies began their legal campaign to stop Mr. Trump from tightening up on travel here from key terror countries. Including Libya. That’s the country from which the parents of the killer who struck at Manchester had sought refuge in England. And from which the bomber reportedly returned to Britain shortly before his attack.

General Kelly told Congress that he does not see specific credible threats to our music venues, but the broader danger is the kind of thing that Mr. Trump was talking about when he issued his orders to tighten up on visas to the United States for refugees from certain countries. The killer of the girls at Manchester, Salman Abedi, who died at the scene, was the son of Libyans to whom Britain had given refuge. Salman had just visited Libya. One of his brothers, Ismail, was arrested in Britain this week.

Their father, Ramadan, and a third son were arrested this week at Tripoli, amid reports of a broader plot. The authorities are reported to be focusing on Libya and the presence there of the Islamic state, raising the question of how long until something like this — straight out of Libya — is launched in America? Expressions of concern about Libya are all over the court documents piling up before the 9th United States Circuit and its jackleg judges.

We are not privy to the intelligence secrets that precipitated the president’s executive orders, but it strikes us that getting beyond the legal impediments to a robust American defense is urgent. The whole country is privy to the clarity of the mandate on this head that Mr. Trump won in the 2016 election. With every passing day the litigation our federal courts — and not just the 9th circuit — have been prepared to entertain has looked to be out of touch with the realities we are facing in this war.

Some of the challenges to Mr. Trump’s authority are based on the allegation that he is animated by bigotry against Muslims. Such bigotry is supposedly made manifest by his campaign statements. Yet Mr. Trump’s orders curtailing some visas was never directed to all Muslims. If the president accomplished nothing else in Saudi Arabia, moreover, he made clear his preparedness to make common cause with Muslims in the war against terror that is dividing the Islamic world.

It is not just the 9th Circuit, as today’s events make clear. This afternoon, the judges who ride the 4th Circuit announced they would continue to block the orders by Mr. Trump curtailing travel from terrorist countries. They reckon that the discretion the president was granted by Congress is not as broad as the discretion the courts are granted and, in respect of this problem, the judges are better able to exercise discretion than any president is. They made no mention of the Ariana Grande murders notwithstanding.

So the gathering storm begs to be brought before the Supreme Court at the earliest opportunity, perhaps on an emergency basis. Is it prepared to bow to the Congress of the United States, which granted the president unambiguous power to use his discretion to suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens? The language of the statute is so plain and the slaughter in Manchester such a clear warning that the pettifogging in the lower courts looks ever more unconscionable.


This editorial was updated from an earlier edition.

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