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Seattle judge derided by Trump known as conservative jurist


    Judge James Robart listened to a case at Seattle Courthouse on March 12, 2013 in Seattle.

SEATTLE >> The Seattle judge derided by President Donald Trump on Twitter today after blocking Trump’s executive order on immigration is known for his conservative legal views, for a record of helping disadvantaged children that includes fostering six of them, and for dramatically declaring “black lives matter” during a hearing on police reform in 2015.

Judge James L. Robart, 69, was appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush in 2004, following a distinguished 30-year career in private practice that included his selection to the American College of Trial Lawyers, an honor bestowed on less than 1 percent of lawyers.

The judge made the most high-profile ruling of his tenure Friday when he temporarily invalidated Trump’s ban on travel to the U.S. from seven primarily Muslim nations. Washington state sued to block the order — with support from Minnesota and major corporations including Microsoft, Amazon and Expedia — arguing that it’s unconstitutional and would harm its residents, and Robart held that the state was likely correct.

The ruling did not sit well with the president, who on Twitter called Robart a “so-called judge” and the ruling “ridiculous.” The president later falsely claimed the decision meant “anyone, even with bad intentions, can come into U.S.”

The comments are unlikely to sway Robart, said those who know him.

“Jim will give a wry smile, maybe adjust his bowtie a little bit and go back to doing his business,” said former Seattle U.S. attorney John McKay, who worked with Robart for a decade at the law firm of Lane Powell Spears Lubersky. “He’s a very careful judge, and he’s conservative in the sense he looks at the law and tries to determine what that is, not what he wants. He’s conservative in his review of the law, but courageous in his application of it.”

Another former Seattle U.S. attorney, Jenny Durkan, called Robart exacting: “We won some in front of him and we lost some in front of him, but we knew anytime we walked into his courtroom we’d better be prepared.”

That was evident Friday when Robart grilled a Justice Department lawyer, Michelle Bennett, asking if there had been any terrorist attacks by people from the seven counties since 9/11. Bennett said she didn’t know.

“The answer is none,” Robart said. “You’re here arguing we have to protect from these individuals from these countries, and there’s no support for that.”

Robart, a graduate of Georgetown Law School, is an expert in patent and intellectual property law, and he issued a landmark decision — later upheld by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals — in a lawsuit between Microsoft and Motorola that provided guidance in how to calculate reasonable rates for use of another company’s patents.

He’s considered a tough sentencing judge in criminal matters, especially in cases involving white-collar defendants, and he has overseen reforms at the Seattle Police Department since 2012, when it agreed to make changes in response to Justice Department findings that its officers were too quick to use force, especially in low-level situations.

Robart was holding a hearing in that case in summer 2015 — a time fraught with tension over violence by and against police officers around the country — when he surprised the courtroom by adopting the mantra of protesters.

“The importance of this issue to me is best demonstrated by the news,” he said, shaking his head and sighing heavily. “According to FBI statistics, police shootings resulting in death involve 41 percent black people, despite being only 20 percent of the population living in those cities. Forty-one percent of the casualties, 20 percent of the population: Black lives matter.”

Robart donated to the state Republican party and to GOP candidates before becoming a judge, but was picked for the bench with the help of a bipartisan selection panel. He helped lead his law firm’s efforts to provide free legal services to those who couldn’t afford them, and he served as president of Seattle Children’s Home, which offers mental health services and special education for at-risk children.

And as U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., noted during his confirmation hearing, he and his wife had fostered six children themselves.

Robart drew high praise from Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, who cited his “exceptional qualifications” and his work representing southeast Asian refugees.

“Working with people who have an immediate need and an immediate problem that you are able to help with is the most satisfying aspect of the practice of law,” Robart said then. “If I am fortunate enough to be confirmed by the Senate, I will take that experience to the courtroom with me, recognize that you need to treat everyone with dignity and with respect, and to engage them so that when they leave the courtroom they feel like they had a fair trial and that they were treated as a participant in the system.”

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        • Whenever Trump doesn’t get his way–he cries like a baby. How can he not see that revoking green cards is unconstitutional wrong. These green card holders went through a lengthy screening process–what threat do they pose?! Trump is an idiot. Impeach Trump.

        • 90 day temporary ban –
          Trump: for the safety of the country
          So called judge: over stepping the bounds of his authority for political reasons

          Question: why would an impartial district Supreme Court judge say “Black Lives Matter”?

          I thought justice was colorblind ???

        • yogaman – You have the most remarkable comments!

          The federal judge, of course, did not step over any bounds. The Trump order is patently unconstitutional, and the independent judiciary exists in part to control the President. That is what’s happening here.

          You apparently don’t read much Senior Judge Robart (appointed by GW Bush) does not sit on the “district Supreme Court” – whatever that means in your mind.

          It might help if you learned something today. Anything would help.

  • Read just a sentence from each man, to see which one is worthy of our respect:

    Judge Robart:
    “I will take that experience to the courtroom with me, recognize that you need to treat everyone with dignity and with respect, and to engage them so that when they leave the courtroom they feel like they had a fair trial and that they were treated as a participant in the system.”

    The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!

  • As a private citizen who has lost many lawsuits, Trump should know better than to publicly criticize a judge who is hearing a case in which he is a party.. As President, he should understand that the doctrine of separation of powers proscribes attacking the judicial system. For a President to attack the American system of justice is to violate the oath of office in which he swears to uphold the Constitution. Trump is executing Putin’s playbook perfectly as he trashes the validity of American democracy and discredits the American system of justice. On a daily basis, Trump is proving that Putin is getting more than he hoped for when he interfered in the election.

      • Trump, remarkably, does not understand the purpose or function of the Judiciary. He is ignorant about almost everything a President needs to know, which describes the cartoonish hot mess he has made of his first two weeks in office.

        Things are going to get worse for Trump as the avalanche of lawsuits filed against him start moving through the process.

        Hundreds of thousands of people are essentially camped out at the offices of House and Senate members, and clogging switchboards. That kind of pressure, with an election less than two years away, will erode Trump’s fragile support in Congress. None of them want to lose their jobs to defend a President whose job approval numbers are falling every single day.

        • sarge22 – If you’re trying to make knowledgeable people feel sorry for you, it’s working.

        • For many sufferers under the direction of the prior administration It feels pretty good when the administration flips and the potus pushes an agenda we like…. but most people suffer from something of a delusion that when executive power is used to force crap you don’t like it is an abuse, and when it is used to force stuff you do like it is fair turnabout…

          The real lesson should be that you don’t endorse an executive power you wouldn’t want wielded by your worst political enemy. Too bad nobody gets it or we could probably find some consensus around limiting executive power…

  • I learned about the 3 branches of government and their powers as outlined in the US Constitution in an 8th grade civics class. Amazing to me that we now have a President who doesn’t seem to understand that he is not a dictator who can just do whatever he wants.

        • sarge22 – “Snowflakes still chirping”

          Does that actually mean something to you? Are you 12 years old?

        • Find this title amusing for here we WITNESSED:
          a. a proven LIAR running for the DEM side
          b. WITNESSING a PROVEN LIAR during the 90s, under oath no less
          c. a proven liar for the last 8 years
          d. and multiple party leaders lying in public about their opponents
          e. and supported by a mainstream media that openly lies and spreads false stories about the Dems opposition

          and here we have ol gigy apparently based on the response that I am reading, implying that President Trump is a liar?? This is way too funny…. here we have someone in office for a couple of weeks, doing what he said he was going to do, neutralize the DEM/LIB agenda that has been working to destroy America as it was founded, and the libs are going bananas… actually, its fun to watch… because it not only highlights they are clueless with respect to whats going on, it also highlights they are either clueless to what they support, or if they aren’t, they are a danger to America because that would imply they are intentionally in favor of taking America down… but I will give benefit of the doubt that they are clueless to the fact that they are being used, clueless to the underlying agenda they support.. and I say this for many of them because of what they say, their lack of depth of knowledge on issues, etc…

  • Deputy Editor of the Wall Street Journal: “Trump puts US on moral par with Putin’s Russia. Never in history has a President slandered his country like this. “

    • Latest from the “so-called president”: Bill O’Reilly asks how can you respect Putin, he’s a killer. “There are a lot of killers,” says the “so-called president.” “We’ve got a lot of killers. What do you think? Our country’s so innocent.”

  • Being appointed by Bush does not make him conservative. He is a “social justice” judge. Not a constitutional judge. He is wrong and this will be overturned. Trump was within his legal presidential powers on this EO. This judge should be ashamed. How scary is it that a liberal judge can make a ruling for the WHOLE COUNTRY!? And on the same day another Federal judge upheld the order. Why does that not count? So glad Trump won!!! The insane left will slowly but surely go away LOL

    • What decisions written by Senior Judge Robert do you disagree with, and what mistakes of law were made?

      Specifically about the Trump case, what error did Judge Robart make?

      You have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about, so take your time. This should be entertaining!

  • What do you expect from a so-called judge that does pro-bono work for immigrants and supports the black lives matter clan, sounds like a conflict of interest. Another trump hater has let the hatred and bitterness towards President Trump cloud is understanding of the Laws.

    And because of the McCarren-Walter act of 1952 President Trump will prevail.

    Known as the McCarran-Walter Act, the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 allows for the “Suspension of entry or imposition of restrictions by the President, whenever the President finds that the entry of aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States. The President may, by proclamation, and for such a period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or non-immigrants or impose any restrictions on the entry of aliens he may deem to be appropriate.”

    Additionally, it is important to note that the McCarran-Walter Act also requires that an “applicant for immigration must be of good moral character and in agreement with the principles of our Constitution.” Therefore, if it is true that the Quran evidently forbids Muslims to swear allegiance to the U.S. Constitution, then ALL Muslims possibly should be refused immigration to OUR country. (Not to mention that their religion requires them to kill anyone who refuses to convert to Islam, which is why so many Christians have been beheaded, and will be otherwise murdered by Muslims)

    Authenticated at: Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952

  • The ban was not permanent and thus thejudge’s decision iis based on altruistic feeling having sympathies for foster children. The judge had a firmer position if the ban permanent.

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