When people think about the states most affected by
immigration policies, states such as California, Florida,
New York, Arizona, and Texas probably come to mind before Washington. How did Washington come to take the lead
in challenging the current administration’s travel ban in
Washington v. Trump, and why did you feel it was important
for our state to do so?
Washington is home to a large and vibrant immigrant commu-
nity, and we began to feel impacts from the President’s execu-
tive order immediately. We had families that were separated
and could not reunite, students and faculty at our universities
who were stranded overseas, and employees of many of our
major companies who immediately lost their ability to travel
for work or to visit family. Because of those very real impacts,
Attorney General Bob Ferguson quickly decided that there was
no time to waste. The order was issued on a Friday afternoon,
we decided on Saturday that we would bring the case, and we
then had a team of lawyers working all weekend long with es-
sentially no sleep to draft our complaint and motion for a tem-
porary restraining order, to gather evidence from a variety of
sources, and to work with our state agency clients to identify
the harms that they were suffering because of the order. Other
states quickly expressed support or filed their own cases, but
my sense is that none made up their minds quite so quickly
or had quite such an outpouring of help from throughout their
AG’s office over that first critical weekend.
What do you feel are the most important takeaways from the
Ninth Circuit’s decision in Washington v. Trump, and what do
you think the decision says about the separation of powers in
I think the single most important takeaway is what Attorney
General Ferguson said from the beginning of this case: No one
is above the law, not even the President. President Trump’s
legal argument was essentially that he has unreviewable
authority to make immigration policy if he simply claims that
the goal is to protect national security. The Ninth Circuit correctly held that there was no precedent to support that position.
As I said in my argument, it has always been the judiciary’s role
in our democracy to say what the law is and to serve as a check
on the other branches of government, and I am very heartened
that the courts have exercised that role here.
Do you think the decision in Washington v. Trump will affect
the current administration’s policymaking going forward? If
so, how and why?
I hope that it will. I think the evidence and arguments we
presented in the case showed the public how little thought
and care the administration had put into a policy that dramatically affected thousands of people’s lives. And I hope the
administration’s loss in this case has taught them that they
need to take greater care to follow the law and consider how
their actions will impact people.
In contrast to the usually stately pace of appellate practice,
oral argument in Washington v. Trump occurred only eight
days after the underlying suit was first filed in district court.
How do you typically prepare for this type of action? From the
moment of filing the case, how much time was spent putting together the case? How did the accelerated timeline affect your
preparation and presentation to the panel?
I have joked since the Ninth Circuit argument in this case that
it was the most important argument I’ve ever done and the
shortest amount of time I’ve ever had to prepare, which is not a
combination I recommend for minimizing stress!
We decided to file this case on Saturday, Jan. 28. We immediately put together a team of lawyers in our office who
worked all weekend (including Anne Egeler and Kelly Paradis
in my office and Colleen Melody, Patricio Marquez, and Marsha Chien in our Wing Luke Civil Rights Unit). And because
of the diligent work of that group, other attorneys, and a number of professional staff (Kristin Jensen, Chamene Woods, and