On Tuesday evening, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said during an interview on “The Mark Levin Show” that he was “amazed” that a single judge from “an island in the Pacific” — meaning Hawaii — could block President Trump’s travel ban, CNN reports.
“We've got cases moving in the very, very liberal Ninth Circuit, who, they've been hostile to the order. 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,” Sessions said during his interview. “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.”
According to CNN, the Justice Department “tried to clarify” Sessions’ comments on Thursday. Ian D. Prior, spokesperson for the Justice Department, said, “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.”
However, Sessions’ remarks received backlash from Hawaii’s senators and attorney general.
Senator Mazie Hirono, according to CNN, called Sessions’ comment “ignorant and dangerous,” while Senator Brian Schatz told Sessions to “have some respect.”
Hawaii was built on the strength of diversity & immigrant experiences- including my own. Jeff Sessions’ comments are ignorant & dangerous
— Senator Mazie Hirono (@maziehirono) 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
Hawaii’s attorney general, Doug Chin, also criticized Sessions, saying, “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 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 Congress and the President. It is disappointing AG Sessions does not acknowledge that,” NPR reports.
Sessions addressed his critics on Friday morning on CNN. “I wasn't criticizing the judge or the island. I think it's a fabulous place. But I gotta tell you, it is a point worth making — that a single sitting district judge out of 600, 700 district judges can issue an order stopping a presidential executive order that I believe is fully constitutional, designed to protect the United States of America from terrorist attack,” Sessions said.