‘Judge sitting on an island’: Jeff Sessions dismisses Hawaii court’s travel ban ruling

Attorney General Jeff Sessions
Attorney General Jeff Sessions (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Attorney General Jeff Sessions criticized a federal judge’s ruling on the White House’s travel ban Wednesday evening, implying a court based in Hawaii shouldn’t have a say in federal policy.

“We’ve got cases moving in the very, very liberal Ninth Circuit, who, they’ve been hostile to the order,” Sessions said Tuesday in an interview with “The Mark Levin Show” on CNN. “We won a case in Virginia recently that was a nicely-written order that just demolished, I thought, all the arguments that some of the other people have been making. We are confident that the President will prevail on appeal and particularly in the Supreme Court, if not the Ninth 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.”

The Justice Department head was referring to a ruling by Judge Derrick Watson last month that put a hold on President Trump’s revised executive order banning immigration from certain countries.

“The judges don’t get to psychoanalyze the President to see if the order he issues is lawful,” Sessions continued. “It’s either lawful or it’s not.” Trump’s statements during the campaign about wanting to keep Muslims out of the country have been pointed out by opponents of the executive order, who claim they reveal an unconstitutional religious bias behind the ban.

Hawaii’s U.S. senators — both Democrats — rebuked Sessions for the comments.

“Hey Jeff Sessions, this #IslandinthePacific has been the 50th state for going on 58 years,” tweeted Sen. Mazie Hirono. “And we won’t succumb to your dog whistle politics. Hawaii was built on the strength of diversity & immigrant experiences- including my own. Jeff Sessions’ comments are ignorant & dangerous”

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

It’s not the first time Trump or his team have called into question the authority of the judiciary. When a federal court in Washington ruled against the original travel ban executive order, Trump referred to Judge James Robart as a “so-called judge.” Robart was an appointee of President George W. Bush who was confirmed by the Senate 99-0. Last year Trump said Judge Gonzalo Curiel should recuse himself from a lawsuit involving Trump University because of his “Mexican heritage,” calling him a “hater” and “total disgrace.” Judge Curiel was born in Indiana to parents who were immigrants from Mexico.

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Photos: Retrospective – Photojournalist Chris Hondros