SPOKANE, Wash. - While the Trump administration faces a roadblock on healthcare, a key campaign promise, a crowd at Gonzaga Law School looked back to the new president's first struggle: the temporary travel ban.
Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson visited the campus on Friday to discuss the process of building a case against the executive order- something they had kept in mind since comments made by then-candidate Trump and New Your Mayor Rudy Giuliani about the possible implication of a “Muslim ban.”
“We were not caught by surprise, we had a team in place that was, frankly, ready to move right away” Ferguson said.
The executive order sparked vitriol online and in the streets from both sides, while some travelers were left stranded in airports across the country.
The debate was amplified when, in the weeks following, both Seattle District Court Judge James Robart and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Washington's favor.
“My team's instincts were right about this case, The first executive order really was unconstitutional,” Ferguson said.
To Friday's crowd at Gonzaga Law School, AG Ferguson broke down his team's process, explaining why he thought the courts agreed with Washington.
“President Trump was essentially creating a Muslim ban.. He said he would do that during the campaign... His advisers said they were going to do it once he was elected and i think the judge saw it for what it was.
Not everyone agrees – the President sent a number of tweets on the topic-- but Ferguson says he respects that...
The AG does say that, because he is a Democrat., critics argue that the suit was politically motivated.
Ferguson, who has brought two lawsuits against the Obama administration says he just goes where the law takes him.
“No one said I was politically motivated when I twice sued the Obama administration. Not one phone call on that, , not one letter, right? It's only because the new president happens to be a Republican,” Ferguson said.
President Trump's revised travel ban has a narrower focus than it's predecessor, but is facing new challenges- including one appeal that's on it's way to the fourth circuit.
Washington is not directly involved with that case, but is still proceeding with it's original case in the courts.
“Right now there's a temporary injunction in place, but ultimately the court has to decide whether the law, the executive order, is legal or not. And we're still very much involved in that,” Ferguson said.
But Ferguson and his team are also keeping his eye on another legal horizon: Stricter enforcement of federal marijuana laws.
“It's my hope that the federal government will continue to allow Washington and now other states to be laboratories of democracy and move forward with the legalization of marijuana,” Ferguson said.
If not, will the AG suit up for another court fight?
“If they try to stop us from moving forward, then they'll be seeing us in court, yeah. It's my responsibility to uphold the will of the people,” Ferguson said.
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