Via CNN, early forecasts projected this to be no worse than a tropical outrage storm.
“We’ve got cases moving in the very, very liberal Ninth Circuit, who, they’ve been hostile to the order,” Sessions said. “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. 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.”
But then it made the rounds on Twitter and Hawaii’s Senate delegation picked it up. And thus did the forecast change to a Category One outrage hurricane.
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
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
Then the brightest young star in American politics, the woman I’m calling The Conscience Of The Left, piped up. And just like that, it became a Category Five outrage sh*tstorm.
Someone please tell Sessions that Hawaii is a state. An American in Hawaii is as American as one from Alabama. Or Indiana. https://t.co/kZb43EmCFp
— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) April 20, 2017
A pal tweeted back at her, “Please tell your mom, so is Wisconsin.”
The left views Sessions as an antebellum southerner who time-portaled here to become Attorney General, so naturally something he says that makes Hawaii sound not quite as American as everywhere else will be catnip. What he meant, I think, was that since most travel is to the mainland U.S. and since the ban is related to Trump’s overarching policy of more secure borders, it’s unfair that a judge who sits outside the mainland and doesn’t normally deal with traditional border issues would set policy for the country, even temporarily. But that’s a silly attitude to take, especially in a case involving a constitutional ruling. Trump implemented a national policy and Hawaii’s part of the nation; a federal judge there applies the same laws as those elsewhere. The ruling should be (and probably will be) overturned eventually due to what Sessions says in the clip about judges “psychoanalyzing” Trump by reading motives into campaign-trail statements, but I don’t know where he’s going with this mainland/Pacific distinction. Frankly, given the amount of tourism to Hawaii, if we’re deciding which judges are and aren’t “qualified” to rule on a travel ban, a judge in Oahu may be better suited than a judge in, say, Nebraska. It’s a political mistake for Sessions to draw geographic lines (here’s just one obvious line of attack) and a policy mistake insofar as it may annoy some judges to see the AG question the authority of one of their own just because of where he sits. But oh well. We probably crossed that bridge with this White House long ago.