U.S. president-elect
U.S. president-elect

A DEFIANT Donald Trump
has pledged to appeal against
a federal judge’s order placing
an immediate halt on his
revised travel ban, describing
the ruling as judicial overreach
that made the United States
look weak.
In granting the temporary
restraining order in response to
a lawsuit by the state of Hawaii,
U.S. District Judge Derrick
Watson found on Wednesday
that “a reasonable, objective
observer … would conclude
that the executive order was
issued with a purpose to
disfavor a particular religion.”
Early on Thursday, U.S.
District Judge Theodore
Chuang issued a nationwide
preliminary injunction in
a similar case in Maryland
brought by refugee
resettlement agencies
represented by the American
Civil Liberties Union and the
National Immigration Law
Center.
Chuang ruled that the
agencies were likely to succeed
in proving that the travel ban
portion of the executive order
was intended to be a ban
on Muslims and, as a result,
violates the U.S. Constitution’s
religious freedom protection.
“To avoid sowing seeds
of division in our nation,
upholding this fundamental
constitutional principle at the
core of our nation’s identity
plainly serves a significant
public interest,” Chuang wrote
in his ruling.
The actions were the
latest legal blow to the
administration’s efforts to
temporarily ban refugees
as well as travelers from
six predominantly Muslim
countries. The president has
said the ban is needed for
national security.
However, the orders, while
a victory for the plaintiffs,
are only a first step and the
government could ultimately
win its underlying case.
Watson and Chuang were
appointed to the bench by
former Democratic President
Barack Obama.
Trump, speaking after the
Hawaii ruling at a rally in
Nashville, called his revised
executive order a “watereddown
version” of his first.
The president said he would
take the case “as far as it
needs to go,” including to the
Supreme Court, in order to get
a ruling that the ban is legal.
The likely next stop if the
administration decides to
contest the Hawaii judge’s
ruling would be the United
States Court of Appeals for the
Ninth Circuit.
Three judges on the Ninth
Circuit upheld a restraining
order on the first travel ban
issued by a Washington state
judge.
At that point, the government’s legal options were
to ask for a hearing by a larger
panel of judges or petition the
Supreme Court to hear the case.
Instead, the administration
withdrew the ban, promising
to retool it in ways that would
address the legal issues.
If the Ninth Circuit were
to uphold the Hawaii court’s
ruling, an appeal to the Supreme
Court would be complicated
by its current makeup of four
conservative and four liberal
judges, with no ninth justice
since the death of Antonin Scalia
more than a year ago.
The travel ban has deeply
divided the country on liberal
and conservative lines, and it is
unlikely that a ninth Supreme
Court justice would be seated
in time to hear an appeal in this
case.
Trump signed the new ban on
March 6 in a bid to overcome
legal problems with his
January executive order, which
caused chaos at airports and
sparked mass protests before a
Washington judge stopped its
enforcement in February.

Watson’s order is only
temporary until the broader
arguments in the case can be
heard. He set an expedited
hearing schedule to determine
if his ruling should be extended.
Trump’s first travel order was
more sweeping than the second
revised order. Like the current
one, it barred citizens of Iran,
Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan
and Yemen from entering the
United States for 90 days, but it
also included Iraq, which was
subsequently taken off the list.
The revised ban also excluded
legal permanent residents
and existing visa holders and
provided waivers for various
categories of immigrants with
ties to the United States.
Hawaii and other opponents
of the ban claimed that the
motivation behind it was
Trump’s campaign promise
of “a total and complete
shutdown of Muslims entering
the United States.”
In Washington state, a group
of plaintiffs applying for
immigrant visas asked U.S.
District Judge James Robart
in Seattle – who suspended
the first ban – to stop the new
order. Robart was appointed
to the bench by Republican
former President George W.
Bush.
Judge Robart said he would
issue a written ruling, but did
not specify a time line.


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