Dayton coffee shop named ‘Best in Ohio’ by Food & Wine magazine

Jeff Sessions dismisses Hawaii as 'an island in the Pacific'

Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke dismissively about the state of Hawaii while criticizing a U.S. District Court ruling last month that blocked the Trump administration from carrying out its ban on travel from parts of the Muslim world. 

 “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,” Sessions said this week in an interview on “The Mark Levin Show,” a conservative talk radio program. 

 Sessions’ description of Hawaii, where the federal judge who issued the order, Derrick K. Watson, has his chambers, drew a rebuke from both of the U.S. senators who represent the state. Annexed as a U.S. territory in the late 19th century, Hawaii became the 50th state in 1959. 

 “Hawaii was built on the strength of diversity & immigrant experiences — including my own,” Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, wrote on Twitter. “Jeff Sessions’ comments are ignorant & dangerous.” 

 The other senator from Hawaii, Brian Schatz, who is also a Democrat, expressed similar sentiments, writing on Twitter: “Mr. Attorney General: You voted for that judge. And that island is called Oahu. It’s my home. Have some respect.” 

 Asked for a response from Sessions, Ian Prior, a spokesman for the Justice Department, said in an email: “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 state of Hawaii is a chain of islands, one of which is also called Hawaii; the judge’s chambers, however, are in Honolulu, which is on the island of Oahu.) 

 Watson, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, was confirmed in 2013 by a 94-0 vote; Sessions, then a U.S. senator from Alabama, was among those who cast an approving vote. A former federal prosecutor, Watson earned his law degree from Harvard alongside Obama and Neil M. Gorsuch, the newly seated Supreme Court justice. He is the only judge of Native Hawaiian descent on the federal bench. 

 Last month, Watson issued a nationwide injunction blocking President Donald Trump’s travel ban, ruling that the plaintiffs — the state of Hawaii and Ismail Elshikh, the imam of the Muslim Association of Hawaii — had reasonable grounds to challenge the order as religious discrimination. He cited comments dating to Trump’s original call, during the 2016 campaign, for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” 

 During the arguments, the government had contended that looking beyond the text of the order to infer religious animus would amount to investigating Trump’s “veiled psyche,” but Watson wrote in his decision that there was “nothing ‘veiled'” about Trump’s public remarks. Still, Sessions reiterated that line of argument in the radio interview, saying he believed that the judge’s reasoning was improper and would be overturned. 

 “The judges don’t get to psychoanalyze the president to see if the order he issues is lawful,” Sessions said. “It’s either lawful or it’s not.”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Politics

Area students join push to end school gun violence, but division remains
Area students join push to end school gun violence, but division remains

The debate over how to stop the ceaseless and senseless taking of lives by mass shooters is louder than it has been in years — and nowhere louder than in and around American schools. Spurred last month by young survivors of a high school shooting that killed 17 of their classmates, teachers and coaches in Parkland, Fla., a movement this month...
Lebanon to seek nine-mill fire levy with plans to move main station

The local city council is on the verge of voting to ask Lebanon voters to pass nine mills in property tax levies — including two additional mills — for fire and emergency medical services as part of plans to improve services and move the main station. On Tuesday, Lebanon City Council is scheduled to consider an ordinance renewing a five-year...
Clark County Fairgrounds to get $50K grant to re-brand
Clark County Fairgrounds to get $50K grant to re-brand

The Clark County Convention Facilities Authority will move ahead with a plan to provide $50,000 in funding to re-brand the Clark County Fairgrounds. But board members said at a meeting Thursday they had reservations about other proposals to provide funding to the Master Gardeners of Clark County and the Springfield Museum of Art. They tabled discussions...
Wayward squirrel creates morning Hamilton electric outage
Wayward squirrel creates morning Hamilton electric outage

A squirrel caused a morning power outage on Hamilton’s West Side, leaving several areas without power for about an hour along the city’s Line 1761 circuit. The areas affected were Gordon Avenue, Rhea Avenue, Cleveland Avenue, Park Avenue, “E” Street, “F” Street, Franklin Street, Ross Avenue, Kenworth Avenue, Millville...
For Russia’s Putin, pressure pays off in facing weak, divided West
For Russia’s Putin, pressure pays off in facing weak, divided West

The U.S. and Europe appeared last week to be lining up alongside the U.K. for a new round of pressure against Vladimir Putin over Russia's alleged use of a nerve agent to poison a former spy outside London.  But the West's united front didn't last long. President Donald Trump didn't even bring up the case in a call to congratulate Putin on his...
More Stories