Federal judge James Robart stopped Donald Trump’s illegal Muslim ban dead in its tracks Friday evening, and very early Sunday morning the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco affirmed the effect of the judge’s decision to freeze the President’s order while the government makes their case in court.
Although his large family and pro bono legal work was discussed during Robart’s confirmation hearing in the Senate, not many people realize that Judge Robart and his wife have fostered many immigrant children from Southeast Asia. Reuters reports:
Judge Robart and his wife have no children but have been foster parents to several immigrant children over the years, primarily from Southeast Asia. Robart could not be reached for comment. The judge served in the past as the president of the Seattle Children’s Home and was a former trustee of the Children’s Home Society of Washington, according to his official biography on the federal court website. Those organizations provide mental health services for at-risk youth and help troubled families.
“His involvement with children may have helped contribute to his understanding of the people impacted by this ruling but would not have shaped his interpretation of the rule of law,” said Paul Lawrence, who was one of the attorneys who filed an amicus brief backing Washington State in the immigration case.
Judge Robart has served over ten years since President Bush appointed the conservative jurist after his recommendation by a bipartisan nominating committee. The jurist our crudely disrespectful President labeled “so-called” was confirmed with a 99-0 vote by the United States Senate. This is what he told the Senators on the chilly day of February 11th, 2004:
The opportunity of working in a large law firm is a special one, but one of the things that it does is it tends to select out a particular group of clients that come for the very specialized services that large law firms tend to offer. I think my time at Evergreen Legal Services had two very important functions for me. One was I was introduced to people who in many times felt that the legal system was stacked against them or was unfair. And one of the things, I think, that my time there helped accomplish was to show them that the legal system was set up for their benefit and that it could be, if properly used, an opportunity for them to seek redress if they had been wronged.
And the second part of it is that working with people who have an immediate need and an immediate problem that you are able to help with is the most satisfying aspect of the practice of law. I think in terms of–if I am fortunate enough to be confirmed by the Senate, I will take that experience to the courtroom with me, recognize that you need to treat everyone with dignity and with respect, and to engage them so that when they leave the courtroom they feel like they had a fair trial and that they were treated as a participant in the system.
The Washington judge made an important statement about America’s three co-equal branches of government in his ruling this week. But in recent years, he’s more known for his role overseeing the Seattle Police Department’s frequently video recorded, and flatly horrifying police brutality problems. After Seattle’s troubled police union chief quit due to public backlash for making public, racially discriminatory comments, Judge Robart had to adjudicate a matter between the City and its officers who were demanding the right to unconstitutionally police the streets.
That’s when he made a statement which stunned the crowd, but whose wisdom is still ringing through the halls of power in Washington where the Seattle Times reports:
“Black lives matter,” he said, drawing a startled, audible reaction in a courtroom listening to the words coming from a federal judge sitting on the bench. He also said the recent shootings of police officers, including in Dallas, Baton Rouge and, in 2009, of four Lakewood, Pierce County, officers, reflected the importance of the work being done to heal police and community relations.
“The court and the citizens of Seattle will not be held hostage for increased payments and benefits … ,” U.S. District Judge James Robart said of contract talks, adding, “I’m sure the entire city of Seattle would march behind me.”
The Constitution isn’t just a piece of paper when wise and compassionate people like judge Robart still staff at least one of our three co-equal branches of the federal government. But that’s the kind of person that our dystopian new President attacks, not the good people in America, but the very best people in these United States.
Judge Robart made a gutsy call, singlehandedly striking down a President’s first major domestic agenda move because it violated the Constitution. He upheld America’s civil liberties as real, and as worthy of protection from the dark reign of President
Donald Trump Steven K. Bannon, the tyrant.
For many Americans, James Robart singlehandedly restored their faith that in these dark times, justice still exists; fairness still matters; we the people possess dignity and respect.
Grant Stern is an Editor-At-Large for OccupyDemocrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report. Find out more at grantstern.com.