Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced Monday that he is suing President Donald Trump, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and high-ranking administration officials for the President’s unconstitutional executive order on immigration. The suit echoes a statement signed by 16 state attorneys general on Sunday decrying the order, but it is the first official legal action of its kind in the country.
As promised, AG Ferguson is among those leading the charge in a nationwide cry of outrage.
“[The order] is unconstitutional,” Ferguson said in a press conference Monday. “You can’t do that. It violates the rule of law. I won’t put up with it — I won’t. It’s our job… to hold everyone to the rule of law, and it doesn’t matter if you happen to be the President of the United States.”
During a tumultuous weekend of airport protests, hasty federal judge rulings, and myriad calls for resistance, Ferguson’s office was working around the clock to put together a court challenge to what even GOP lawmakers have roundly criticized. The full text of the complaint should be available later today. “We moved quickly on this,” Ferguson said. “Every hour matters. Every day matters. It’s impacting people’s lives in a profound way. That’s why I felt so strongly that it was important to bring a thoughtful lawsuit before the federal court as soon as we possibly could.” He expects that other state attorneys general are likely join the suit, or launch their own, very soon.
The suit argues that Trump’s order, which indefinitely bars Syrian refugees from entering the U.S., suspends all refugees from entering the country for 120 days, and blocks citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. for 90 days, violates the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause, the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, the federal Immigration and Nationality Act, and infringes the constitutional right to due process. Alongside the suit filed in U.S. District Court of Western Washington, Ferguson also filed a motion for a temporary restraining order which would call for an immediate halt to implementation of the executive order, no matter what happens in the courts. But Ferguson is moving fast: He asked the court to schedule a hearing within 14 days.
The order’s “clear purpose is an unconscionable religious test” that would “discriminate against one faith,” Gov. Jay Inslee said Monday. “This is un-American. This is wrong. And it will not stand.”
Inslee pointed to the “human suffering caused by this train wreck,” and underscored the importance that the state of Washington is a party on this lawsuit, because every Washingtonian is affected by the order. “This is not just an insult on the rights of a few people in Washington. It is an insult and a danger to all people in the state of Washington — of all faiths.” He lauded the suit as a clear representation of the need for checks and balances in government. “In American history, we have never needed checks and balances like we have needed it today.”
Another argument Inslee and Ferguson outlined: The executive order is not only unconstitutional and cruel, but it damages the state’s economy. On Sunday, Expedia and Amazon provided statements to Ferguson’s office regarding how this order will affect their business and their employees directly.
Inslee attended protests both at Sea-Tac and in downtown Seattle over the weekend, and pointed out that nationwide resistance on this has already made a difference. The Trump administration has backed down somewhat on at least one aspect of the order that would have barred people carrying green cards. “Resistance is not futile,” he said. “It’s productive.” He urged everyone — from the state attorney general’s office to the peaceful protesters in the streets — to keep it up.
“This is not a reality TV show. This is reality,” Inslee said, with emphasis. “President Trump may have his ‘alternative facts,’ but ‘alternative facts’ do not work in a courtroom.”
Added Ferguson: “In a courtroom, it is not the loudest voice that prevails. It’s the Constitution. That’s why we’re a nation of laws. At the end of the day, either you are abiding by the Constitution, or you are not.”