Attorney General Ferguson: 'The future of the Constitution is at stake'

CaptionCloseSolicitor General Noah Purcell and Attorney General Bob Ferguson:  "This is a complete victory for the state of Washington," says Ferguson after 9th Circuit ruling. . (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)Solicitor General Noah Purcell and Attorney General...

Attorney General Ferguson: 'The future of the Constitution is at stake'

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Solicitor General Noah Purcell and Attorney General Bob Ferguson:  "This is a complete victory for the state of Washington," says Ferguson after 9th Circuit ruling. . (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Solicitor General Noah Purcell and Attorney General Bob Ferguson:  "This is a complete victory for the state of Washington," says Ferguson after 9th Circuit ruling. . (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson:  "In my view, the future of the Constitution is at stake" in the state's case against Trump's travel ban.  (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson:  "In my view, the future of the Constitution is at stake" in the state's case against Trump's travel ban.  (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Attorney General Bob Ferguson gave his own definition of the stakes in Washington's suit against President Trump's travel ban after the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to remove a Seattle judge's restraining order.

"In my view, the future of the Constitution is at stake," Ferguson told a press conference soon after the three-judge 9th Circuit panel ruled for the state.

The AG, a chess champion in private life, zeroes in on what was a disastrous move on the part of the Trump Administration -- its argument that the President's Executive Order was "unreviewable," an argument that Trump has made in denouncing the legal proceedings.

Ferguson quoted, slowly, a key passage from the 9th Circuit ruling:

"There is not precedent to support this claimed 'unreviewability' which runs contrary to the fundamental structure of our Constitutional democracy."

The 9th Circuit scorned the Trump administrtion's argument, saying in its opinion:  "The Government has taken the position that the President's decisions about immigration policy, particularly when motivated by national security concerns, are unreviewable, even if those actions potential contravene Constitutional rights and protections."

The Supreme Court has, it added, a history of ruling otherwise.

Attorney General Ferguson also had a response to Trump's capitalized see-you-in-court tweet. "We've seen him in court twice and we're two for two," Ferguson said.

Ferguson had a suggestion for Trump as the case heads back to U.S. District Judge James Robert, who issued the initial restraining order. He noted that Robart, in issuing the restraining order, indicated that the state would likely prevail.

"He (Trump) can continue to fight this or he can tear up this Executive Order and start over," said Ferguson. "I would strongly recommend the latter course of action."

The Executive Order, temporarily banning travel to the United States from seven predominantly Muslim nations, created "chaos" at the nation's airports, Ferguson argued. He described it as the product of "little thought," "little planning" and "little oversight."

Ferguson was not playing the football spiker in his hour of victory. He introduced and praised state Solicitor General Noah Purcell, who argued the state's case before the 9th Circuit. He introduced other staff members, joked about round-the-clock work with no overtime.

And, said Ferguson, the technical arguments, citing of precedent, and back-and-forth of court and federal legal proceedings ultimately have bearing on how we live and exercise rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

"At the end of the day, it's about peoples' lives," Ferguson said.

Solicitor General Purcell downplayed a key aspect of the state's case, which was played up in the 9th Circuit ruling -- Donald Trump's campaign call for a "Muslim ban" and subsequent remarks by ex-New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani that the Executive Order was a Muslim ban by another name.

The 9th Circuit said in its opinion:

"In support of the argument, the states (Washington and Minnesota) have offered evidence of numerous statements by the President about his intent to implement a 'Muslim ban' as well as evidence they claim suggests that the Executive Order was intended to be that ban."

The reaction? Relief rather than celebration.

"Justice prevailed again today," tweeted Seattle Mayor Ed Murray.

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., thanked the AG's office for obtaining and defending the restraining order that cut off disruptions caused by Trump's Executive Order.

"This is a complete victory for the state of Washington," Ferguson said.

And what did it affirm? "The United States is a country of laws."

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