Guessed Wrong

A Federal judge in Hawaii has proven me wrong.

In my review of the updated immigration executive order (aka “travel ban”), I guessed the revised order would pass legal muster. Last night (March 15, 2017) Judge Derrick K. Watson, of the Federal District Court in Honolulu, blocked implementation of two key parts (Sections 2 and 6) of the order nation wide. Subsequently, another judge (Judge Theodore D. Chuang, of the Maryland District) issued a similar ruling.

How could I be so wrong? The simple (desperately trying not to be defensive) answer is I am not a lawyer and it is now even more clear I don’t know what I’m talking about when it comes to legal issues. Somehow, I don’t think that will keep me from expressing my own opinions in the future, however. [grin]

[Ed. note: A savvy reader might take the previous paragraph as a less than subtle “Reader Beware” warning.]

Following this case I have learned an important and fascinating lesson about the law and how it is interpreted. Previously, I did not fully understand how judges could use more than the official text of an executive order (or law for that matter) to determine whether or not it is constitutional. Obviously, Judge Watson used many other comments, documents, etc. by the president and his surrogates to conclude the primary purpose of the order was to discriminate against a particular religion. In hindsight, I can now see that I completely missed this aspect of the rulings on the original “travel ban” order. This time around, the concept of including other documents in determining intent is much more obvious.

It is actually very good to know that extended context matters with respect to interpreting the law.

Since both of the judges issued temporary restraining orders not final orders, the legal battles over the “travel band” executive order are far from over. I’ll be following them every step of the way.

For anyone interested in the details, here is the full text of the Watson ruling as published by the New York Times. Fair warning: it is lengthy.

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