The White House is gearing up to fight a federal judge’s nationwide halt of President Donald Trump’s immigration order.
The order by Judge James Robart, a George W. Bush appointee who presides in Washington state, is a significant setback for Trump’s controversial travel ban and created another round of chaos nationwide over the policy’s legality.
“The court concludes that the circumstances brought before it today are such that it must intervene to fulfill its constitutional role in our tripartite government,” Robart wrote in the order.
1) Who is Judge Robart?
James L. Robart has been a federal judge for the US District Court for the western district of Washington state since 2004 when President George W. Bush nominated him to the federal bench. He assumed senior status in 2016.
Born in 1947 in Seattle, Robart graduated from Whitman College in 1969 and Georgetown Law School in 1973, where he was administrative editor of the Georgetown Law Journal, according to his official biography on the US District Court’s website. He was in private practice in Seattle with the firm Lane Powell Moss & Miller from 1973 to 2004, moving to the position of managing partner from 2003-2004.
2) Robart has done extensive community service
During his confirmation hearing, Washington Democratic Senator Patty Murray remarked how he had “a generous sense of community service through his work with at-risk and special needs youth.”
Robart is the former president and trustee for the Seattle Children’s Home, which handles mental health needs for children and their families throughout Seattle and the state according to their website. He’s also worked extensively with the Children’s Home Society of Washington, which provides services to families in order to improve children’s lives.
3) This is not the first time he’s been in the news
Robart has sparked controversy before. According to a video posted on the US Courts website, Robart can be seen saying that “black lives matter” in a court hearing in August 2016.
The remarks came during a hearing for a 2012 lawsuit demanding the Seattle Police Department adopt changes after the Department of Justice found “reasonable cause to believe that SPD had engaged in a pattern or practice of excessive force.” The DOJ report also identified “serious concerns about certain practices that could have a disparate impact on minority communities.”
4) He’s done pro bono work with Southeast Asian Refugees
During his confirmation hearing, Utah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, Robart remarked how Robart had done pro bono work and also 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.”
He was confirmed unanimously by the Senate.
5) Helping people with “immediate needs” and “immediate problems”
It was also during his confirmation hearing that Robart spoke about using the courts to help people who felt the legal system was stacked against them.
“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.”
Robart added he would treat everyone with “dignity and respect” in his courtroom.
“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. I think in terms of — 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.”