The Supremes Give Trump Everything He’s Wanted

Today’s Agenda

  • SCOTUS decisions
  • Civility
  • GE’s breakup
  • Tobacco strongholds
  • Housing affordability

Well, this sure paid off.

Photographer: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images North America

SCOTUS’ Blind Refereeing Gives Trump a Win

Out of the ashes of one Korematsu rises a new Korematsu.

Korematsu v. U.S. was the 1944 Supreme Court decision rubber-stamping Franklin Roosevelt’s internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. Chief Justice John Roberts today repudiated that decision for good – but did so in the service of a new terrible decision in Trump v. Hawaii, rubber-stamping President Donald Trump’s Muslim travel ban.

The Korematsu decision ignored the anti-Japanese prejudice behind FDR’s actions, and the Roberts court
followed a similar logic
, dismissing Trump tweets and speeches in which his anti-Muslim bias is on flagrant display, writes Noah Feldman. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, in her dissent, noted the Korematsu-sized elephant in the room, inspiring Roberts to declare that decision dead and nothing at all like the one he and the court’s four other conservatives had just made. 

Roberts reportedly cares a lot about the Supreme Court’s place in history, which apparently motivated his decisions on the Affordable Care Act. He probably had one eye on the history books when killing Korematsu too. Justice Anthony Kennedy, meanwhile, added a performative concurrence suggesting he felt just terrible about the whole thing, really, while voting in favor of it. “But these efforts are far too little to save the court, or Kennedy, from the judgment of history, which will be harsh,” Noah writes.

To be fair-ish, keeping people out of the country is arguably not quite as bad as holding them in camps indefinitely. But as you may have heard, Trump wants to do that too. The message of Trump v. Hawaii, as NBC’s Benjy Sarlin noted, is that he might get away with it, as long as his lawyers don’t let his prejudices show. 

If you need further evidence Trump is not purely driven by national security concerns, just take a look at four prominent Muslim countries not on his ban list – all places where Trump has business interests, notes Tim O’Brien. “Perhaps animus wasn’t at work when Team Trump crafted its travel ban, but what about avarice?” Tim writes.

If you’re looking for a more-hopeful take, Cass Sunstein finds evidence in the decision that Roberts “does not give a blank check to Trump or his successors.” But he also adds, “American ideals have taken a beating.” The court’s many 5-4 conservative decisions in this session – with Trump appointee Neal Gorsuch, in his purloined seat, the reliable deciding vote – suggests Trump won’t have to fear breaking out his own checkbook very often. 

Incivility: Both Sides Don’t Do It Equally

One thing Cass notes is the elegance and, dare I say, civility of Justice Stephen Breyer’s separate dissent in Trump v. Hawaii. Maybe Sarah Huckabee Sanders should be allowed to eat in peace, but it’s easy to see why frustrated dissidents are looking for creative new ways to voice their displeasure. Remember, they marched peacefully in the streets against the Muslim ban and got nothing to show for it. And Jonathan Bernstein argues we should resist the urge to “both sides” the civility issue, particularly as long as any Red Hen restaurants, much less the wrong ones, are getting death threats and as long as Trump tweets invective all day long. 

GE Pulls Off the Band-Aid

Brooke Sutherland has
written a lot
about how General Electric Co. needs to
finally let go
of its conglomerate past and
trim down
to something more manageable. Its many halting steps in that direction in recent years haven’t pleased investors. But today it said it would shed its health-care unit and its stake in the oilfield services company Baker Hughes, among other things. Brooke, like the stock market,
applauded the moves
– but added they were jut a good start.

Where Smoking Is Still on the Rise

Smoking is in decline around the world – except in parts of the world where millions of potential new smokers live:

Governments in these countries need to adopt some of the
same tobacco-control practices
other nations have used to curb smoking, Bloomberg’s editors write.

Trade War Watch

This was a day of relative peace in the brewing trade wars. Though Canada was reportedly working on
a new round of quotas
and tariffs, Trump apparently
backed away
from restricting Chinese investment in U.S. firms. Even Harley-Davidson Inc. stock barely moved, despite
Trump tweeting
 at it. But the trade-war threat
is still real
, and markets are only
just starting to wake up
to it, writes Mohamed El-Erian. Certainly
automakers around the world
are already suffering, writes Anjani Trivedi. And whether due to trade or something else, tech stocks – which have dominated the market in a
weird and discomfiting way
 – are leading it lower these days, writes Stephen Gandel.

The House Prices Are Too Damn High

The housing crisis is long over, but its echoes still affect the market. After the crisis, homebuilders focused on rental properties and super-high-end homes for the wealthy. That means the supply of single-family homes is tight, pushing prices higher. Meanwhile, wages haven’t kept up, making housing increasingly unaffordable, writes Gary Shilling. It won’t get better any time soon.

Chart Attack

Once more, with feeling: There is
not a crisis of immigrants
flooding America’s southern border, writes Noah Smith.

At OPEC, the customer is not always No. 1, Liam Denning warns anybody hoping the cartel will
stick to its pledge to pump more
and keep oil prices in check. 

Speed Round

CEOs sure
go to a lot of meetings
. – Justin Fox

We might just be psychologically hard-wired to ignore the evidence that hedge funds destroy value. – Mark Gilbert

Better garbage collection and recycling in developing Asia could be a huge help in keeping plastic out of the oceans. – Adam Minter

Trump’s Middle East peace plan is
radically different
than anything we’ve seen before. – Zev Chafets

immigration policy right is hard
, even if you’re not Trump. – Tyler Cowen 


eked out gains
. Uber can go back to London. David Lynch is maybe not voting for Trump’s reelection. 


How to
steal 50 million bees

Here are NPR’s best songs of the year so far.

And here is … a very strange, possibly revealing song and video by former Trump buddy Emin Agalarov.  

Will science ever solve the mysteries of consciousness, free will and God?

Note: Please send bees, suggestions and kicker ideas to Mark Gongloff at


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This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

To contact the author of this story:

Mark Gongloff

To contact the editor responsible for this story:

Timothy L. O’Brien

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