Trump's 'Muslim ban' rhetoric won him votes, but haunts him in court
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One of the earliest lessons we teach our young children is that words matter.  But this lesson has become increasingly difficult to engrain in America’s kids because we have a president in the Oval Office who never learned it. Instead, he brazenly says things, in office as he did on the campaign trail, that range from being irresponsible to misguided to deceitful to apparently outright lies.  

But while he may not have learned this valuable lesson at home, he is certainly being schooled in it by our nation’s judiciary.  

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Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpJudge rules to not release Russia probe documents over Trump tweets Trump and advisers considering firing FBI director after election: WaPo Obama to campaign for Biden in Florida MORE was handed a second judicial defeat Wednesday as he tried to enact his second attempt at a Muslim ban.  

 

While the ruling did not surprise many of us who knew the second Muslim ban was essentially the same as the first, just packed in a nicer box and wrapped in prettier paper, it seemed to surprise other observers who believed it to be on much sounder legal ground and would probably survive legal muster.  

It has not thus far. And Trump's words have everything to do with why.

Back to our children, remember the saying “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me?”  Well I have always taught my children that this rhyme is seriously twisted.  We know words can hurt deeply.  

The irony here is that words meant to hurt and disparage Muslims here in the United States and around the world, uttered by Trump during the heat of the 2016 campaign in order to score cheap but important political points for him, are the same words that are now haunting him and (thankfully) hindering his ability to impose his biases through executive orders.  

The Hawaii judge who imposed the global restraining order in effect, keeping the order from going live, used Trump’s own sloppy, hate-filled, and hurtful campaign rhetoric as the basis for shooting it down.  

"The illogic of the Government’s contentions is palpable," wrote Judge Watson. "The notion that one can demonstrate animus toward any group of people only by targeting all of them at once is fundamentally flawed. The Court declines to relegate its Establishment Clause analysis to a purely mathematical exercise."

Remarkably, Judge Watson goes on to state that there is no need to guess at the motives of the president nor his intent.  

In essence, he is rejecting the government’s contention that the court “should not look into the veiled psyche and secret motives of government decision makers” by saying outright that there is no “veiled” nor “secret motives” here.  Thanks to Trump’s own words, we know exactly what his intent and his motive was.  

Judge Watson also uses Trump’s advisors’ words against them by citing Rudy Giuliani who publicly stated that Trump went to him for advice on how to “legally” implement the Muslim ban.  

Watson also refers to White House Advisor Stephen Miller’s comments about how the second ban will technically have the same intent and focus as the first one.  

Watson, a Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaObama to campaign for Biden in Florida Jaime Harrison on Lindsey Graham postponing debate: 'He's on the verge of getting that one-way ticket back home' Quinnipiac poll reports Biden leading Trump by 8 points in Pennsylvania MORE appointee, was not the only one who found that Trump’s past words were enough to gauge intent.  A second judge, U.S. District Court Judge Theodore Chuang also issued a more limited restraining order of the travel ban but using similar reasoning.  

Donald Trump was none too happy with either judge, as we can imagine.  During a rally in Tennessee last evening, he mused angrily about how he would return to his original ban because that one was more sweeping, saying he was also prepared to take the case to the Supreme Court.

“This ruling makes us look weak, which by the way we no longer are, believe me,” Mr. Trump said, to roars from a supportive crowd.

“Let me tell you something. I think we ought to go back to the first one and go all the way,” Trump declared. “The danger is clear, the law is clear, the need for my executive order is clear.”

What is absolutely clear here, is that Donald Trump needs to learn that his words have consequences.  What he said on the campaign trail or says in office cannot simply be swept under the rug of “rhetoric without meaning.”

Language is how we communicate what we feel, who we are, what values we hold dear, and what most matters to us.  

Ironically, Trump weaponized his language on the campaign trail, against communities of Americans and foreigners whom he demonized for his own political aggrandizement.  Some say he did it brilliantly, as his supporters ate up every word of it.  

The problem is, as Matthew 12:37 so poetically states: “For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.”

For Trump, it will be the latter.  

Maria Cardona is a principal at the Dewey Square Group, a Democratic strategist and a CNN/CNN Español political commentator.


The views of Contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.