President Donald Trump is unaware of the power he holds, Hawaii's attorney general has suggested.
Hawaii Attorney General Douglas Chin was involved in the court proceedings that halted Trump's second executive order to ban travel from six Muslim-majority countries, according to the Independent.
Chin explained that he was taken aback by the criticism of the judiciary from Trump and his administration.
"I think what makes it more discouraging when you have people at the highest levels of government making those statements," said Chin. "It's almost like they don't understand that power that comes with the office that they have, or that they're exploiting it unnecessarily."
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After judge Derrick Watson placed a temporary restraining order on Trump's executive order March 16, Trump declared the move to be a "terrible decision."
The administration has sought to stress that the ban on issuing visas to travelers from six Muslim-majority countries is not the "complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States" which Trump called for during his presidential election campaign.
"This is not a Muslim ban," Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall argued in the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. "Its text doesn't have anything to do with religion. Its operation doesn't have anything to do with religion."
During the hearing in March on the order, Chin told Watson that it was like a "neon sign flashing 'Muslim ban, Muslim ban.'"
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"[Under the order,] if you come from one of these countries it doesn't matter if you're a baby or a spouse of a citizen, you're presumptively a terrorist," said Chin. "That is, by itself, a disenfranchising statement that was being made by the highest levels of government toward an entire class of people."
Chin also took up the remarks made by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who attacked Watson as an "unelected judge" and described Hawaii as "an island in the Pacific."
"To me, these kinds of statements just don't jibe with what we grew up learning," said Chin. "The whole point of what America stands for is the idea that you can have an executive that a gets checked by the two other branches -- and that includes the judiciary."
The federal appeals court in Virginia heard oral arguments May 8 on the travel ban.
According to the New York Daily News, Trump administration officials submitted a briefing to the court in which it defended its ban by citing a 1971 Supreme Court case, Palmer v. Thompson. The case allowed city officials in Jackson, Mississippi, to get away with segregation by permitting them to shut down all of their swimming pools after a lower court had ordered them to desegregate them.
In the passage cited by the Trump administration, the Supreme Court majority wrote that it was "extremely difficult for a court to ascertain the motivation, or collection of different motivations, that lie behind a legislative enactment."