A federal appeals court denied early on Sunday a request from the Department of Justice to immediately restore President Trump's executive order on immigration and refugees, asking for more court filings before it rules on the matter.
As reported on Saturday night, the DOJ had filed court papers hours earlier seeking an immediate reversal of a ruling Friday against the executive order by U.S. District Judge James Robart of Seattle. Shortly after, the strongly liberal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the request for an immediate ruling, and instead called for written responses to the appeal to be filed with the court later Sunday and Monday. It was awaiting further submissions from Washington and Minnesota states on Sunday, and from the government on Monday.
The government's appeal said the decision by judge James Robart in Washington poses an immediate harm to the public, thwarts enforcement of an executive order and "second-guesses the president’s national security judgment about the quantum of risk posed by the admission of certain classes of (non-citizens) and the best means of minimizing that risk". Previously, in a seven-page ruling, Judge Robart wrote that he was granting a restraining order against the government in part because the plaintiffs, which included the State of Washington, were likely to win on their constitutional claims. Not halting the president’s order would cause the plaintiffs “irreparable injury,” he wrote.
The court ruling dealt a second consecutive setback in two days to Trump, who has denounced the judge in the state of Washington who blocked his executive order on Friday. In tweets and comments to reporters, the president insisted on Saturday he would get the ban reinstated. On Saturday, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a Democrat, praised the judge’s ruling and said Californians and travelers to the state “can reunite with your family. You can go about your business, including travel, as long as the federal court order stands. Be mindful to carry your legal documents if you are traveling. And know that California’s local public safety officers are there to protect you and not to enforce overreaching federal immigration pronouncements.”
Robart's adverse ruling, while not the first, had the broadest impact yet on Trump's executive order, extending the block nationwide. Trump’s executive order already had been hit with dozens of lawsuits as individuals, civil-rights groups and state officials have sought to strike it down on constitutional or other legal grounds, and has resulted in a flurry of temporary rulings.
A federal judge in Boston sided with the Trump administration earlier on Friday by refusing to extend a temporary restraining order he had issued last week. That ruling came before the Seattle order was issued. At a third hearing in Virginia on Friday, a Justice Department lawyer said the order had led to the revocation of more than 100,000 visas—a statement that was quickly contradicted by the State Department, which said the correct figure was fewer than 60,000.
Trump has said the temporary immigration restrictions on citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, and on all refugees, are necessary to protect the United States from Islamist militants. Critics say they are unjustified and discriminatory.
Washington Federal Judge Robart's order and the appeal ruling have created what may be a short-lived opportunity for travelers from the seven affected countries to get into the United States while the legal uncertainty continues.
While the Trump administration seeks to overturn Judge Robart’s order, the Departments of State and Homeland Security had no choice but to begin complying with it. If the administration’s appeal is successful, however, the agencies could be forced to change direction yet again the WSJ reports.
Legal issues around the order also led to an extraordinary standoff earlier this week when acting Attorney General Sally Yates, a holdover from the Obama administration, instructed Justice Department lawyers not to defend it and said she had serious concerns about its legality. The White House fired her within hours and installed Virginia U.S. Attorney Dana Boente in the post, who said he would defend the order.
We now await Trump's angry response, as a Supreme Court showdown over the Immigration executive order appears inevitable.