U.S. Attorney General Disses Federal Judge “Sitting on an Island in the Pacific”
After Attorney General Jeff Sessions commented about Hawai‘i Federal Judge Derrick Watson’s travel-ban block, Twitter users from Congress to Kaka‘ako react with #islandinthepacific.
Photo: Courtesy of The United States Department of Justice
Attorney General Jeff Sessions—the nation’s top lawyer—stirred controversy across social media by dismissing Hawai‘i federal Judge Derrick Watson’s standing in an interview Tuesday on “The Mark Levin Show.”
Watson is the federal judge who halted the implementation of the Trump administration’s travel ban against a group of Muslim-majority nations.
On the Levin show, Sessions said: “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.”
Both of Hawai‘i’s senators swiftly responded. Sen. Mazie Hirono called Sessions comments ignorant and dangerous.
Hirono said: “The suggestion that being from Hawai‘i somehow disqualifies Judge Watson from performing his Constitutional duty is dangerous, ignorant, and prejudiced. I am frankly dumbfounded that our nation’s top lawyer would attack our independent judiciary. But we shouldn’t be surprised. This is just the latest in the Trump Administration’s attacks against the very tenets of our Constitution and democracy.”
Sen. Brian Schatz Tweeted: “Mr. Attorney General, I have a message for you: You voted for that judge. That island is called O‘ahu, and it's my home. Have some respect.”
Schatz added, “There is no doubt Trump’s supporters and Republicans from across the country will come after me for taking him and his Attorney General on, but Hawai‘i is my home, and defending what’s right is always my No. 1 priority.”
Hawai‘i Attorney General Doug Chin noted this was a second instance of the Trump administration speaking out against a Hawai‘i judge.
“President Trump previously called a federal judge in California a so-called judge. Now U.S. Attorney General Sessions appears to dismiss a federal judge in Hawai‘i as just a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific,” Chin said. “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 Congress and the President. It is disappointing AG Sessions does not acknowledge that.”
Many others responded across the state:
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— Senator Mazie Hirono (@maziehirono) April 20, 2017
Try: "I'm sorry. That was offensive. I disagree with the ruling, but I respect the judiciary and shouldn't have taken such a cheap shot." https://t.co/aoZewx7jzT— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) April 20, 2017
Mr. Attorney General: You voted for that judge. And that island is called Oahu. It's my home. Have some respect. https://t.co/sW9z3vqBqG— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) April 20, 2017
Our 50th state #IslandinthePacific is home to the only US WWII battlefield at Pearl Harbor. AG Sessions, have some respect.— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) April 20, 2017
I think Jeff Sessions should pick up a history book & learn about Pearl Harbor in our #IslandinthePacific before he disparages us further.— HawaiiDelilah (@HawaiiDelilah) April 20, 2017
I was born an raised on that #islandinthepacific and Jeff Sessons isn't invited.— Jackie (@jackienw) April 20, 2017