Jeff Sessions dismisses Hawaii, Senators bite back

Calls state “an island in the Pacific” in dismissal of travel ban block

The state of Hawaii has a huge beef with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions after he slighted the 50th state in an interview on a radio show. When asked about Donald Trump’s travel ban that was struck down by judges in several states, including Hawaii, Sessions said, “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 attempted to clarify in a later statement, but did not address the perceived insult: “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 a flawed opinion by a single judge can block the President’s lawful exercise of authority to keep the entire country safe.”

The most influential critics of Sessions were Hawaii’s Senators, both of whom are Democrats. Senator Mazie Hirono called Sessions’ comments “ignorant & dangerous” on Twitter. Senator Brian Schatz wrote on Twitter, “Mr. Attorney General: You voted for that judge. And that island is called Oahu. It’s my home. Have some respect.” Indeed, the judge who blocked Trump’s revised travel ban and ruled it unconstitutional, Mr. Derrick K. Watson, was confirmed by Sessions and the Republicans in the Senate unanimously in 2012.

Hawaii’s attorney general, Doug Chin, was more accusatory in his response to Sessions’ comments: “U.S. Attorney General Sessions appears to dismiss a federal judge in Hawaii as just a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific. Our Constitution created a separation of powers in the United States for a reason. Our federal courts, established under article III of the Constitution, are co-equal partners with the Congress and the President. It is disappointing AG Sessions does not acknowledge that.”

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