The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the latest challenge to the Trump Administration’s third version of the travel ban. Hawai‘i continues to be at the forefront of this legal challenge, and another half dozen lawsuits against President Trump’s policies. HPR Reporter Kuʻuwehi Hiraishi has more.
Just two weeks into President Donald Trump’s first term, and Hawaiʻi wasted no time in suing the administration for the first version of the travel ban. Here’s state Attorney General Doug Chin.
“It rocked the entire nation. You had people protesting all around the country including at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport,” says Chin, “It was referring to an entire group of people just as terrorist or as a danger to national security simply based upon the country that they came from or by implication the religion that they were practicing. That just goes totally against Hawaiʻi’s values and what it stands for.”
Chin, who is now running for Congress, has thrown the state’s support behind another six federal lawsuits against the Trump Administration policies. This comes as no surprise for a heavily-Democratic state to challenge a Republican administration’s policies. Visiting Law Professor Kellye Testy says there’s more to it than different political ideologies.
“It’s still early, obviously year one,” says Testy, “But things are moving at a really rapid pace and there have been many things to give concern about President Trump’s respect for democracy and the rule of law. There are a lot of concerns that we are moving in a direction of too much executive power.”
Chin shares that concern. Citing recent arguments the administration made in defense of the third version of the travel ban. Saying the president’s order trumps any court decision.
“That is essentially what they were saying – that if you know the President issues something that’s unreviewable and we were stunned,” says Chin, “You know I don’t know how else to describe that. But that sounds like a dictatorship.”
“Without the rule of law we’re in trouble in my view,” says Testy.
But Testy is confident the strong system of checks and balances will guard against executive abuse, and that public awareness of the rule of law in our constitutional democracy is key.
“We’ve decided here to be governed by law. And that means that everyone needs to understand that that comes first,” says Testy, “And we may have disagreements about what that law should be or disagreements about policy or how to use it, but that fundamental respect for the rule of law is really critical for our democracy.”
As we enter year two of the Trump Presidency, Chin says its community activism that is going to provide the biggest check on executive power.
“I feel inspired by that. That encourages me,” says Chin, “Just to see how many of us here in Hawaiʻi have been activated, woken up by what we’ve seen happen.”