I Am Amazed That Top Government Lawyer in an Office in Washington Doesn’t Understand the Federal Judicial System

By now you have likely seen the remarkable statement from the Attorney General of the United States, the self-declared unbiased non-racist Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, who was educated at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, AL and the University of Alabama School of Law in Tuscaloosa. If not, here it is:

“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.” http://n.pr/2pLWTxZ

Since UASL is accredited by the American Bar Association, it reasonable to expect that it teaches courses on the federal court system and one would hope that AG Sessions took at least one such course. Constitutional Law is in fact a required first-year course that presumably covered at least some core elements of the structure and function of the judicial system.

Now, to be “fair,” I understand that Sessions has — to use the popular “walking it back” theme of current political discourse (“walk back” means “uh oh, I said something really stupid that reflects what I really think but that is going to be really unpopular so I will “walk it back” – imagine a dog, having pooped on the carpet, slinking out of the room backwards) – walked this back. Here’s what he said:

“I wasn’t criticizing the judge or the island. I think it’s a fabulous place and had a granddaughter born there,” he said. “But I got to tell you, it is a point worth making — that a single sitting district judge out of 600, 700 district judges can issue an order stopping a presidential executive order that I believe is fully constitutional, designed to protect the United States of America from terrorist attack.”

Even in “walking back” his first statement, Sessions still refers to Hawaii, as much a state of the United States as Alabama, as “the island,” as if being an island is somehow a lesser status. When asked if he would like to rephrase his statement, the “walking back” ended: “I don’t know that I said anything I would want to phrase differently.” http://cnn.it/2pLBTXN

In fact, of course, the judge in question holds a law degree from Harvard, so, no, rest assured, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III wasn’t criticizing him. Furthest thing from his mind. He was instead just criticizing the entire setup of the judicial system, which in his mind is apparently just a fine thing to do. He typifies the lawyer who can never accept that he lost the case, that his arguments were simply wrong. Or badly presented. No, it must be “that judge” who did me wrong, who sits on an island somewhere. Who does he think he is, anyway?

This might be amusing if it were not a central element in the mind-set of Not-My-President Donald Trump who is never wrong and who is always being mistreated by those Mexican judges or someone else with dubious credentials. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III is the lead attorney in the United States government, the head of the Department of Justice! And he apparently doesn’t accept the structure of the federal judiciary.

The literature on authoritarianism is replete with discussions of the dangers to freedom and democracy that arise when the powerful attempt to delegitimize the core institutions that enable democracy to work. We therefore must not simply write Sessions’ remarks off as more buffoonery from the Trump administration. These types of statements are dangerous indicators of the ideology that drives the administration’s agenda. They must be called out for what they are at every opportunity and resisted in every responsible way possible.

I rest my case, Your Honor. At least for a while.

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