While the legal sequence of events focusing on Trump's controversial immigration order is now focusing on the next rulings out of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which may well culminate at the Supreme Court, the man who launched this weekend's legal firestorm is James Robart, the federal judge for the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington, who temporarily blocked President Trump's immigration order.
While opinions about the Judge, and his ruling, have differed largely along party lines and ideology - and nowhere more so, than in Trump's Twitter timeline, who called Robart a "so-called judge" whose "ridiculous" opinion "essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country" - here are some facts and publicly stated opinions about Trump's judicial nemesis, US District Judge James Robart, 69.
- Born in 1947 in Seattle, Robart graduated in 1969 from Whitman College and in 1973 from Georgetown Law School, where he was administrative editor of the Georgetown Law Journal
- He was in private practice in Seattle with the firm Lane Powell Moss & Miller from 1973 to 2004, serving as managing partner in 2003 and 2004.
- Nominated by President George W. Bush in 2003.
- Confirmed 99-0 by Senate in 2004.
- "He is relatively apolitical," said Douglas Adkins, a private equity investor and former investment banker who has known Robart since childhood. "He's not a conservative or a liberal. He's a man interested in the law and fairness" although he is also said to be known for "conservative legal views."
- At Robart's 2004 confirmation hearing, Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah said: "He brings a wealth of trial experience to the Federal bench after trying in excess of 50 cases to verdict or judgment as sole or lead counsel, and he has been active in the representation of the disadvantaged through his work with Evergreen Legal Services and the independent representation of Southeast Asian refugees"
- "Mr. Robart's impressive credentials are reflected in his unanimous American Bar Association rating of Well Qualified," Hatch said of Robart at the hearing. "I am confident that he will be a fine addition to the bench and urge my colleagues to join me in supporting his confirmation."
- Hatch also noted that Robart had done pro bono legal work and had represented refugees during his career: "He has been active in the representation of the disadvantaged through his work with Evergreen Legal Services and the independent representation of Southeast Asian refugees."
- During his confirmation hearing, Robart spoke about using the courts to help disenfranchised people: "I was introduced to people who in many times felt that the legal system was stacked against them or was unfair. And one of the things, I think, that my time there helped accomplish was to show them that the legal system was set up for their benefit and that it could be, if properly used, an opportunity for them to seek redress if they had been wronged."
- During his confirmation hearing, Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington praised Robart for his "generous sense of community service through his work with at-risk and special needs youth."
- In 2011, Robart put a temporary hold on a state rule change that would have cut government funding for disabled children and families in Washington.
- "When faced with a conflict between the financial and budgetary concerns ... and the preventable human suffering," Robart wrote in that opinion, "the balance of hardships tips in the favor of preventing human suffering."
- Robart sparked controversy last year for a remark he made involving a case alleging use of excessive force by police. Last year, Robart said 'black lives matter' during a federal court hearing, saying he would not allow the Seattle police union to hold the city 'hostage' by linking demands for higher wages to constitutional policing: "Police shootings resulting in deaths involved 41% black people, despite being only 20% of the population living in those cities. Forty-one percent of the casualties, 20% people of the population -- black lives matter."
Also of note: when the Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson was preparing his case against the Trump order, he called in the general counsels at major Washington employers Amazon.com, and Expedia for their support. The companies eventually filed sworn statements in court saying the ban hurt their businesses. It is not clear if Robart is close with Seattle's corporate lobby.
According to Axios, with his tweet attacking the "opinion of this so-called judge," Trump may have complicated efforts by his lawyers to defend the travel restrictions. University of Pittsburgh law professor Arthur Hellman told AP: "Either they have to defend the statements that Judge Robart is a 'so-called judge,' which you can't do, or they have to distance themselves from the president, who is their boss."
What happens next? According to a statement by the White House on Sunday afternoon, the US won't ask the Supreme Court for an immediate immigration ruling, and will instead follow the Appeals Court Schedule.
Trump's reaction to all of the above? Moments ago, after keeping Twitter radiosilence for 20 hours, Trump just tweeted "Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens blame him and court system. People pouring in. Bad!", suggesting that if something bad happens to the country, people should blame Robart.
Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens blame him and court system. People pouring in. Bad!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 5, 2017
I have instructed Homeland Security to check people coming into our country VERY CAREFULLY. The courts are making the job very difficult!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 5, 2017