KAILUA-KONA — The U.S. Supreme Court’s Tuesday decision in the case of Trump v. Hawaii, which affirmed broad executive powers to restrict or prohibit travel from majority-Muslim countries for national security purposes, inspired universal rebuke among Hawaii politicians and activist groups.
U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono called Tuesday “a dark day for our country” in an official press release, adding “every time our country has singled out a minority group for discriminatory treatment, we have been proven very, very wrong.”
Brian Schatz, her Senate counterpart, said in a release of his own that the court’s 5-4 decision is proof that legality and justice aren’t always defined the same way. He characterized the ruling as “un-American and contrary to everything we stand for.”
“The Supreme Court made the wrong decision and ignored the evidence that the Muslim ban, even the more narrowly tailored version, is a xenophobic policy that makes our country no safer than before,” Schatz said.
State politicians voiced their objections as well, beginning with Lt. Governor Doug Chin, the former Hawaii Attorney General who initially filed the case against the Trump administration that the Supreme Court decided Tuesday.
Chin focused his remarks less on legal merit in favor of compassion and encouragement.
“I hurt today for Hawaii families and others who have experienced discrimination and scapegoating due to President Trump’s bullying remarks and orders,” he said in a press release. “The path to civil rights does not always come quickly, but I have faith in humanity and believe justice will eventually prevail.”
Gov. David Ige used his press release to provide context through a Hawaiian lens.
In what was at the time a U.S. territory, Japanese-Americans living in Hawaii were interned during World War II, a decision upheld by the Supreme Court in 1944 in the case of Korematsu v. United States.
“Many of Hawaii’s families vividly remember experiencing unjust discrimination on the basis of race and national origin,” Ige said. “Our state will continue to be a check on this president’s irrational fear of travelers from predominantly Muslim countries.”
“Sadly, the Supreme Court’s decision does not reflect the American values of inclusion, freedom, and opportunity,” he continued. “And it does not reflect the Aloha Spirit that Hawaii exemplifies.”
Joshua Wisch, executive director of the Hawaii American Civil Liberties Union, in a release called the president’s order “discriminatory” and said it “hurts for everyone who cherishes our Constitution.”
The end of his comments, however, struck a more optimistic tone, expressing pride in the millions of American citizens who spoke out against every version of the travel ban.
“And while the Court reached the wrong decision today — one which will haunt it for generations — we take comfort in knowing that the American people rose up to defend the most vulnerable among us in their most fraught hours,” Wisch said.
“When Japanese-Americans were sent to internment camps during World War II not only did the courts fail, but the people were silent,” he added. “Not so this time.”
The Trump administration claimed vindication in an official response issued Tuesday.
The White House continued on to reference what it described as “hysterical commentary from the media and Democratic politicians who refuse to do what it takes to secure our border and our country” throughout a legal process that began with an emergency injunction filed Jan. 28, 2017 — one day after the president issued his initial ban on U.S. entry for citizens of seven majority-Muslim nations.