Noah Feldman wrote today in Bloomberg News that Trump got to the presidency by breaking all the rules, but he has come up against one rule he can’t break: the rule of law.

Unlike the unwritten rules of campaigning that Trump flouted, the legal rules are written down. And they come with a full-blown ecosystem of institutions and actors, not to mention the courts that are profoundly committed to sustaining law itself.

Trump and his team seem truly not to understand that. Astonishingly, they didn’t go through the ordinary and almost mandatory procedures that take place within the government before executive orders with the force of law are issued. This amounted to flouting the legal checks that exist within the executive branch itself.

First, they didn’t run the executive order past lawyers at the Department of Justice, whose Office of Legal Counsel reviews all presidential actions that are potentially unlawful. Even the George W. Bush administration in the fevered aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks managed to submit its plans for interrogation to the OLC (where the so-called torture memos came from).

The OLC would’ve caught most or all of the legal vulnerabilities that plague Trump’s order and that led the various district court s to enjoin it. So it wasn’t just wrong for the administration to ignore the OLC. It was also counterproductive.

Then there is the bizarre fact that the administration didn’t prepare Justice Department lawyers to be able to defend its order by giving them the chance to prepare arguments in advance. Reportedly, in various courts around the country, the department’s lawyers couldn’t answer basic questions about the order or its practical effects — which means they essentially couldn’t defend it. A better defense — or any — might have saved the order.

In practice, the administration failed to give Customs and Border Protection guidance on what the order aimed to do. That led to the kind of embarrassing chaos that helped the courts see the whole thing as an exercise in lawlessness.

All of this points us in one direction: Make a contribution to the American Civil Liberties Union, People for the American Way, and any other groups prepared to defend the Constitution.