A federal judge in Hawaii is making headlines after temporarily freezing President Donald Trump’s revised ban on travelers from several Muslim-majority countries.
In a 43-page ruling, US District Court Judge Derrick Watson issued a scathing rebuke just hours before Trump’s revised travel ban was to go into effect Thursday.
“The illogic of the government’s contentions is palpable,” he said of the ban, which would have temporarily barred travelers from six Muslim countries from entering the United States.
Watson’s ruling came after he heard Hawaii’s case against the revised ban. The revised ban replaced the one Trump signed in January that was stopped by another federal judge.
Here are five things to know about Watson:
He was Obama’s nominee
The former President nominated Watson five years ago to serve on the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii.
At the time of his nomination, Obama issued a blanket statement describing him and six other nominees to US District Courts as qualified and ready to serve.
“These individuals have demonstrated the talent, expertise, and fair-mindedness Americans expect and deserve from their judicial system,” Obama said at the time.
The Senate unanimously confirmed Watson in a 94-to-0 vote.
He was born in Hawaii
Watson was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. He graduated in 1991 from Harvard Law School. Prior to that, he attended Harvard College, graduating in 1988.
He’s made history
When Watson was confirmed, he was the fourth person of Native Hawaiian descent to serve as an Article III judge in the United States, according to the Congressional Asian Pacific Americans Caucus.
“Today, Judge Watson made history. I am confident he will serve Hawaii with distinction and honor. He has dedicated his life to the pursuit of justice and fairness in our legal system,” Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard said at the time. Article III judges serve on the US Supreme Court, the federal courts of appeals and district courts.
He was partner at a law firm
When it comes to the law, Watson is no rookie.
Before becoming a judge at the US District Court, Watson was an assistant United States attorney in the District of Hawaii and Northern District of California. Before that, he was partner at a San Francisco law firm, where he focused on product liability and environmental cost recovery litigation.
He also served as a US Army Reserve captain.
He’s done pro bono work
During his confirmation hearing questionnaire, Watson said he spent hundreds of hours representing pro bono clients when he served in private practice.
“Together with one of my partners, we supervised a team of attorneys and paralegals who brought human trafficking…and wage and hour claims on behalf of two Mexican nationals against a chain of Bay Area taquerias,” he wrote. “After extensive discovery, much of which was done in Spanish, we recovered significant sums for both plaintiffs and their families.”
He also said he’s worked on landlord/tenant cases, and partnered with a civil rights group to challenge a high school district’s electoral system that prevented the election of a Hispanic member.