Jeff Sessions Insults Hawaii, Hawaii Strikes Back

April 21st 2017

Mike Rothschild

When attacking a federal district court judge's ruling blocking President Trump's latest travel ban, Attorney General Jeff Sessions appeared to forget that Hawaii is actually a state.

“I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the president of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and constitutional power,” Sessions told conservative radio host Mark Levin, referring to U.S. District Court judge Derrick Watson's decision in March to block enforcement of Trump's second executive order banning travel from majority Muslim nations.

Pundits and Hawaiian politicians immediately took to social media to point out the depth and quantity of errors in Sessions' statement, as well as how insulting it was.

For one, as a federal judge, Watson explicitly has the "statutory and constitutional power" to block executive branch rulings that run afoul of the law. Beyond that, Hawaii is not just "an island in the Pacific." It's a state, admitted to the union in 1959, and also not one island, but eight major islands and over 130 smaller islands, islets, and atolls. Its population of 1.4 million is more than 10 other states.

Hawaii is also a key point of entry for both cargo and tourists, giving the state a unique perspective on the relative safety of international travelers.

The feud between Sessions and Hawaii escalated quickly. The state's Attorney General and two Senators quickly took to Twitter to strike back at Sessions:

Others brought up Hawaii's history as a critical military base, invoking the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Sessions' own history for voting yes for Judge Watson was pointed out by one of Hawaii's Senators, Mazie Hirono, who voted against Sessions as Attorney General back in February.

Sessions responded not by retracting the statement, but reinforcing it, with a spokesman saying "Hawaii, is, in fact, an island in the Pacific."

While Hawaii is the biggest of the Hawaiian islands, it's not actually where Judge Watson's chambers are — they're on Oahu, the most populated island.