Meet judge James Robart, the man who defied Donald Trump travel ban

Meet judge James Robart, the man who suspended Donald Trump's travel ban

James Robart has suspended Donald Trump's travel ban

Monday, February 6, 2017

He's been described "a great judge, greater man and even better human being" and now he's shot to global fame, thanks to Donald Trump.

Federal Judge James Robart has ruled against Donald Trump's travel ban, meaning travellers banned from entering the US can come in after all.

A legal case will now be heard to decide whether people from seven predominantly Muslim countries will still be banned. Mr Trump has suggested he will get his way in the end, even blithely describing Robart as a "so-called judge."

But he'd be wise not to take his latest adversary for granted.

Robart has served on the federal bench in Seattle for more than 10 years, having been appointed by George W Bush following a long and distinguished legal career with private firm Lane Powell. He has earned respect and admiration for his strength of character, and consistent willingness to stick up for the underdog.

Last year, for example, he declared that "black lives matter" while hearing a case against the Seattle police. At the time it was a hugely inflammatory thing to say, given the protest group of the same name which sprung up last year and inspired huge demonstrations across the country. But Robart wasn't going to back down.

He's also blocked new rules on street performers as unconstitutional, and put a temporary hold on a state rule change which would have cut government funding for disabled children in Washington. His record is consistent in his fearlessness.

Private equity investor and former investment banker Douglas Adkins, who has known Robart since childhood, was quoted by the Guardian as saying: “He is relatively apolitical. He’s not a conservative or a liberal. He’s a man interested in the law and fairness."

Alongside this tireless advocacy of the underprivileged, Robart and his wife have adopted several children - demonstrating that his passion extends far beyond the courtroom.

Robart hasn't responded to Mr Trump's "so-called judge" barb, but his former law partner Stephen C. Smith has written on Facebook that it won't bother him.

“Jim Robart is a great judge, greater man and even better human being" Smith said. "I think he would consider it a badge of honor to be attacked on Twitter by the childish ignorant Trump."

Mr Trump may well get his way in the end, but perhaps he should think again about being so condescending towards such a resilient and resourceful man.