Ses­sions doesn’t think a judge on ‘an is­land in the Pa­cific’ should stop Trump

The Washington Post - - POWERPOST - AARON BLAKE aaron.blake@wash­ Ex­cerpted from wash­ing­ton­ the-fix

First, can­di­date Don­ald Trump said a judge of Mex­i­can de­scent couldn’t give him a fair hear­ing. Now, Pres­i­dent Trump’s at­tor­ney gen­eral, Jeff Ses­sions, is sug­gest­ing that a judge from Hawaii — which he dis­mis­sively la­bels “an is­land in the Pa­cific” — should not be able to strike down Trump’s travel ban.

Here’s what Ses­sions told ra­dio host Mark Levin on Wed­nes­day, in audio un­cov­ered by CNN’s Andrew Kaczyn­ski:

“We are con­fi­dent that the pres­i­dent will pre­vail on ap­peal and par­tic­u­larly in the Supreme Court, if not the 9th Cir­cuit. So this is a huge mat­ter. I re­ally am amazed that a judge sit­ting on an is­land in the Pa­cific can is­sue an or­der that stops the pres­i­dent of the United States from what ap­pears to be clearly his statu­tory and con­sti­tu­tional power.”

There are a few prob­lems with this.

The first is that Hawaii is a state and has been since 1959. Dis­miss­ing it as “an is­land in the Pa­cific” is the kind of thing that will earn you the plea­sure of apol­o­giz­ing to an en­tire state.

The sec­ond is that the judge isn’t a Hawai­ian judge, per se. Derrick Wat­son is a fed­eral judge who hap­pens to serve on a dis­trict court in Hawaii. And he has some of that al­limpor­tant main­land ex­pe­ri­ence and per­spec­tive, hav­ing worked as a lawyer in San Fran­cisco.

And the third is that Hawaii does have ma­jor ports of en­try, with in­ter­na­tional trav­el­ers ar­riv­ing reg­u­larly. ( We hear the beaches are nice or some­thing?) Hence, it is af­fected by Trump's travel ban.

This is hardly the first time the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has sought to un­der­cut or ques­tion the pow­ers of judges who run afoul of Trump.

There was Gon­zalo Curiel, the Mex­i­can Amer­i­can fed­eral judge born in In­di­ana whom the pres­i­dent crit­i­cized for the han­dling of the Trump Univer­sity case.

And then there was Trump’s lengthy cam­paign to ques­tion whether the courts had the author­ity of over­rule his travel ban. Even new Supreme Court Jus­tice Neil M. Gor­such has called Trump’s at­tacks on judges “de­mor­al­iz­ing” and “dis­heart­en­ing.”

Trump seemed to back away from those at­tacks for a while. But now Ses­sions has picked them up again.

Hawaii’s two Demo­cratic sen­a­tors re­sponded sharply to Ses­sions’s re­mark Thurs­day.

“Mr. At­tor­ney Gen­eral: You voted for that judge. And that is­land is called Oahu. It’s my home. Have some re­spect,” Sen. Brian Schatz said in a Twit­ter mes­sage.

And Sen. Mazie Hirono is­sued this tweet:

“Hey Jeff Ses­sions, this #Is­landinthePa­cific has been the 50th state for go­ing on 58 years. And we won’t suc­cumb to your dog whis­tle pol­i­tics.”

A spokesman for the Jus­tice Depart­ment, in a re­sponse, dou­bled down on the at­tor­ney gen­eral’s re­marks, in­clud­ing on the “is­land in the Pa­cific” part:

“Hawaii is, in fact, an is­land in the Pa­cific — a beau­ti­ful one where the At­tor­ney Gen­eral’s grand­daugh­ter was born. The point, how­ever, is that there is a prob­lem when flawed opin­ion by a sin­gle judge can block the Pres­i­dent’s law­ful ex­er­cise of author­ity to keep the en­tire coun­try safe,” Ian D. Prior said in a state­ment.

Wat­son is­sued an or­der March 15 that halted parts of Trump’s sec­ond travel ban. That or­der, which ap­plies na­tion­wide, is be­ing chal­lenged by the Jus­tice Depart­ment be­fore the U. S. Court of Ap­peals for the 9th Cir­cuit based in San Fran­cisco.


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