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America passed the Trump stress test

President Donald Trump speaks during a ceremony to present the Presidential Medal of Freedom to former football coach Lou Holtz, in the Oval Office of the White House, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump speaks during a ceremony to present the Presidential Medal of Freedom to former football coach Lou Holtz, in the Oval Office of the White House, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Donald Trump’s presidency has been a four-year stress test of America’s constitutional system. Trump’s belligerent governance has weakened the bipartisan fabric – rooted in prudence, decency and comity – that ties our multi-branch system of government together.

At the same time, however, the fundamental pillars of our constitutional order have survived intact – revealing their enduring strength.

Take judicial review, the principle that the judicial branch, as opposed to the executive or legislative branches, makes the final determination regarding constitutional disputes. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall articulated this principle in 1805 in Marbury v. Madison, stating that it “is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is.”

Judicial review has been an essential rule of American government ever since. And despite Trump’s numerous Twitter attacks on the judiciary – not to mention his interfering in cases involving his friends and demanding indictments of his foes – he has not violated a single court order.

Since his inauguration, Trump has lost in court endlessly. Lower courts invalidated the first two versions of his travel ban and struck down his executive order denying funding to sanctuary cities. The Supreme Court rejected his attempts to rescind DACA and to deprive the LGBT community basic civil rights. And the court authorized a local prosecutor in New York to seek Trump’s personal financial information.

William Cooper

William Cooper

Despite these and other thundering losses, Trump has obeyed the courts’ rulings. Trump’s uniform compliance with court orders will be on display again, soon enough, when the courts conclusively reject Trump’s inept attempt to overturn the presidential election.

And this highlights another fundamental principle of American government that will pass the Trump stress test – the peaceful transfer of power after an election.

Trump would surely violate this principle, seize power and stay in office if he could. But our constitutional system will not let him. While Republicans in his administration and Congress have largely acquiesced to Trump for the last four years, they will not cross this line and recognize a Trump presidency after Joe Biden’s inauguration.

The Senate, which holds the express constitutional power to remove the president, made this clear before the election. It unanimously declared that “there should be no disruptions by the President or any person in power to overturn the will of the people of the United States.”

There is, quite simply, nothing Trump can do to circumvent the foundational American principle that the peaceful transfer of power follows an election. Trump’s public acceptance of the GSA authorizing formal transition processes indicates that he understands this fact.

Trump has, to be sure, damaged our country in myriad ways and our body politic remains wounded, polarized and dysfunctional. There is, moreover, still time between now and Biden’s inauguration for Trump to cause trouble.

But there’s only so much additional damage he can inflict. The bedrock principles of American government – such as judicial review and the peaceful transfer of power – are, still, enduring safeguards that fundamentally restrain all American presidents. Even Donald Trump.

William Cooper is an attorney who has written for the Arizona Capitol Times, Wall Street Journal, Baltimore Sun, New York Daily News and USA Today, among others.



  1. Cooper you’re the problem with America. My favorite boss from years ago told me early in my career he would take all the lawyers, ship them to an island… and then sink the island. The damage to our country was Obama’s fault. He and his gestapo perpetrated a divisive message that denigrated and disenfranchised half the country…what you likely call the south and flyover states. Obama’s indifference to “Occupy” spawned Antifa. Obama’s intentional bigotry towards people “clinging to their guns and bibles” and “that could be my son” commentary is exactly what caused the current racial and political division. Period. It wasnt Trump that caused this. You liberals are to blame, take responsibility. Further, there’s no turning back. Republicans have learned from liberal radicalism and condescension. The stolen election, which appears to be empirically evident, wont be accepted even tho he will be inaugurated. So under a Biden presidency…expect an extremely emboldened Antifa, strife, public lawlessness and then ever increasing uprising of republican push back against those that threaten our pursuit of life liberty and happiness.

  2. Poor Little Jimmy Jones! Go back to your hill with all of your guns, ammo and bible. Continue to think there is ‘fraud’ with this election, if that was the case do you think Mark Kelly would of won? or the repugnant congressional clowns – Gosar, Biggs, and Lesko would of been voted in again? Glad trump lost! It’s time to have the smart and real adults in the WH again. Trump was a symptom of this country’s racial bigotry that has never been addressed. When do you get tired of hearing little white boys being shot by police? I’ve never heard of any in the news. What trump has done is far worst , and he is to blame for the rise of domestic terrorism (proud boys, kkk, etc.) for the increase of hate crimes perpetrated on Americans that are not white or have names like Jim Jones! He know how to turn over every stone and expose the grievances of your like that take no responsibility for knowing your neighbor’s that do not look or think like you, who are more educated, start businesses, speak multiple languages and worship differently. You can’t deal with a changing society, so you blame liberals for your problems. Trump s nothing garbage, a tin pot despot, has no leadership skills or integrity or character or fit to be elected for another 4 years. The majority us know he is incompetent, a bigot, misogynist and a criminal fraud with his gestapo family! History will record him as such and much of the world will be glad he is gone! I hear the courts are after him…LOL

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