Dressed in their business professional best, students on Hamilton’s DC program took a trip to the courthouse to meet with the Honorable John D. Bates, the Senior United States District Judge of the District Court for D.C.
Some of his notable rulings include the decision in NAACP v. Trump that found that the Trump administration did not give sufficient reason to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), his blocking of the $54 billion merger between health insurance companies Anthem and Cigna, and his dismissal of Al-Aulaqi v. Obama, a case brought forth by the American Civil Liberties Union. So, to say that the meeting was an incredible opportunity would be an understatement.
Judge Bates began by recounting the path to his current position, and describing the structure and functioning of the U.S. judicial system. The D.C. circuit docket is heavily civil, and less criminal, cases. He has handled cases dealing with everything from the operation and structure of the government, provisions of the Constitution, voting rights, and antitrust, to the kidnapping and subsequent death of a U.S. citizen in Trinidad and Tobago and cases seeking damages from the Iranian and Sudanese governments for the bombings of U.S. embassies.
He also answered questions from the students on a variety of topics, from more general questions about executive privilege, separation of powers, and the extent of the court’s jurisdiction, to more specific questions. One student asked his opinion on the public criticisms of the FISA process for the lack of transparency. Another student, who is writing a term paper on the growth of partisan conflict within the Supreme Court nomination process, was able to ask him about his perspective on that topic.
The meeting was a great chance to hear from a high-ranking member of the judiciary. Judge Bates was an incredibly gracious host and his perspective is invaluable for understanding the workings of the judicial branch.