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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Former Secretaries Of State Get Behind Washington Lawsuit Against Trump

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
A number of former top U.S. officials have thrown their support behind Washington state's lawsuit against President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration.

First it was companies like Amazon and Expedia. Now Washington state’s lawsuit against President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration has the support of former top U.S. officials.

Some of the names are familiar from past Democratic presidential administrations. Former Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright and John Kerry. Former Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano. And former CIA Director Leon Panetta. They are among 10 former national security, foreign policy and intelligence officials who’ve filed a declaration in support of Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s lawsuit against the Trump administration.

Yale law professor Harold Koh helped coordinate the drafting and filing of the declaration over the weekend. He said the effort started Friday night after federal Judge James Robart in Seattle issued his ruling blocking Trump’s immigration order.

“The question came up about whether national security officials who have been talking amongst themselves might be willing to do a declaration,” Koh said.

It turns out Koh has a mutual friend who knows Washington state Solicitor General Noah Purcell -- a lead lawyer on the case. The two talked by phone on Saturday.

“And then suddenly it’s ‘gee can you file something by tomorrow’ and it’s on Super Bowl weekend too and I’m a big Patriots fan so my thought try to get this done before the kickoff,” Koh said.

Soon the former U.S. officials were emailing around a draft six-page declaration that condemns Trump’s executive order on immigration and refugees as “unnecessary” and harmful to U.S. national security and foreign policy.

Koh said in order to file the declaration with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the former officials took pictures of their signatures with their phones and emailed the photos to submit to the court.

Koh noted this isn’t the first time Washington state has been in the midst of a dramatic court battle with foreign policy implications. According to HistoryLink, in August of 1973 then-U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas was summering at his cabin in Yakima County when he issued an order temporarily halting U.S. bombing of Cambodia under President Richard Nixon. That stay was overturned hours later by his colleagues on the court.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."