Hawaii judge locks in preliminary injunction on Trump's travel ban

Raise your hand if you saw this one coming. In what’s essentially a replay of the original effort, a judge in Hawaii has extended his original restraining order on Travel Ban 2.0 into a preliminary injunction. The White House had been hoping that at least portions of it would be allowed to go into effect, but the entire thing has been put on ice yet again. (NBC News)

A federal judge in Hawaii on Wednesday extended his previous ruling blocking President Donald Trump’s so-called “travel ban” that would have restricted entry to the United States by refugees and people from some predominantly Muslim countries.

U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson granted a motion by the state to turn his temporary restraining order blocking Trump’s revised executive order into a preliminary injunction. The move extends the ban on enforcement while the case moves forward.

The government also sought to have the judge limit the injunction to just the issue of visas from six predominantly Muslim nations, and not on a 120-day hold on refugees, but the judge declined to do so and that part of Trump’s order remains blocked.

There seems to be some sort of collusion going on between Judge Watson and Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin. That AG is certainly making a name for himself in the Resist! movement, so I won’t be terribly surprised if we see him casting an eye toward some higher office in the near future. Here’s Chin talking up his “victory” on NBC.

“We do not fault President Trump for being politically incorrect. We fault him for being constitutionally incorrect,” Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin said in his opening arguments to the court Wednesday, according to NBC affiliate Hawaii News Now.

Chin is also demonstrating that he’s ready to fight the President on his own turf, that being social media. Apparently the new strategy for taking on “the Twitter President” is to fire up your own Twitter account in response.

Getting back to District Judge Derrick Watson for a moment, we’re seeing a pattern which both parties are now using to full effect, though probably to the detriment of the entire judicial process. Back when Barack Obama was in office and fired off an executive order, the GOP was able to go to Texas or other “red district” courts and find a judge to shut down his orders on DACA and related issues. Now that Trump has taken over, the Democrats have found their own set of judges in Hawaii and on the west coast who are willing to do the same.

Even some of the most liberal analysts on MSNBC have been saying that this new travel order would pass muster if it goes to the Supreme Court, so this injunction is dubious at best. But absent a significant change in our entire legal system (which won’t be happening any time soon) there’s really nothing much to be done about it. We’ve managed to politicize every aspect of American life pretty thoroughly, so should we really be surprised that it finally infected the judiciary? That was supposed to be the one branch where politics was left aside, but the continued parade of 5-4 decisions on the Supreme Court (or 4-4 splits currently) on socially contentious issues should have torn the mask off that fantasy long ago.

There’s no solution to this one other than to run this appeal up to the SCOTUS, but until we get Gorsuch seated there probably won’t be any relief in sight there either. What a mess.