Win McNamee

Yes, he knows it’s a state. Probably.

After another federal court contemptuously stuffed another version of President Trump’s Muslim ban in the trash last month, you might think that attorney general and inveterate dystopian Jeff Sessions would move on to implementing other aspects of his immigrant-loathing, drug-fearing, minority-vote-suppressing agenda, but no! In an interview this week, America’s chief law enforcement official proved that he remains a bigoted dog after an unconstitutional bone, and the argument he offered on behalf of the ban is…a real head-scratcher. From CNN:

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
.

Aha, so here we have a sitting cabinet official denigrating the authority of a lawfully-appointed federal judge by virtue of where in the United States that federal judge goes to work every day. Got it! This is both an unfathomably stupid and horribly condescending thing to say, and both of Hawaii’s senators—they get two, because they are a state, you see—wasted no time with the clapback. Here’s Mazie Hirono calling out Sessions’ implicit subordination of what is far and away the state with the lowest percentage of white residents:

Meanwhile, her counterpart Brian Schatz brought the receipts, pointing out that Sessions, when he was a senator from Alabama—also a state—voted to confirm to the bench the same judge whose authority Sessions is now calling into question because he didn’t like the way this particular case turned out for him.

It’s fun to imagine that Jeff Sessions literally doesn’t know that this “island in the Pacific”—which is, objectively speaking, the best state in the union—is a U.S. state. This seems…doubtful, though. His geographic reference could be an oblique reference to the looming threat posed by North Korea, a country that is obviously located much closer to Hawaii than it is to the rest of the mainland, but in the context of the travel ban from Muslim countries, this doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. The most likely scenario is that Sessions intended to question the ability of a judge located some 5,000 miles from Washington, D.C. to understand and appreciate the threat posed to the United States by hostile foreign powers. You wouldn’t understand! You just sit on the beach all day! I’ve seen ‘Moana’! If that’s the right explanation, though, I can think of a Josh Hartnett movie he should watch sometime.

What’s more alarming than Sessions’ bizarrely dismissive treatment of Hawaii, though, is the fact that the sitting attorney general evidently doesn’t understand that federal courts can use the process of judicial review to nullify laws that they determine are unconstitutional. Or, even worse, he understands this elementary legal dynamic perfectly well, but is nonetheless choosing to ignore it in order to make the judge’s decision appear illegitimate to those who might not possess Sessions’ understanding of the court system. This the real reason why his comments are, as Senator Hirono put it, “ignorant and dangerous”: it’s a barely-veiled threat to the basic powers of the American judiciary. If Jeff Sessions is mad about a judge exercising his lawful authority to bar the enforcement of an unconstitutional policy, maybe he should stop trying so hard to make those policies happen in the first place.

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Joseph Doyle is an active entrepreneur and life coach with a multi million property portfolio and advertising and marketing agency boosting large international brands. Contact Joseph at www.digilab.ie