Federal appeals court rules against Trump, refuses to reinstate travel ban

Donald Trump
President Donald Trump. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

A federal appeals court unanimously ruled against President Donald Trump on Thursday, refusing to reinstate his travel ban affecting people from seven Muslim-majority countries.

The ruling, issued by a three-judge panel on the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, means that refugees and citizens of the countries in question can continue entering the US — striking a blow to Trump’s ability to deliver on one of his key campaign promises.

“We hold that the Government has not shown a likelihood of success on the merits of its appeal, nor has it shown that failure to enter a stay would cause irreparable injury, and we therefore deny its emergency motion for a stay,” the panel said in its ruling.

Shortly after the ruling was announced, Trump posted a defiant message to Twitter:

“SEE YOU IN COURT,” Trump tweeted, foreshadowing a legal challenge that could play out in the Supreme Court.

The Justice Department said it is reviewing the court’s decision.

The ruling comes after a lower-court judge in Seattle, James Robart, issued a nationwide hold on the ban on Friday, prompting the US Justice Department to file an emergency stay. Robart’s decision elicited a furious outburst from Trump, who called Robart a “so-called judge” and his opinion “ridiculous.”

The executive order, signed by Trump on Jan. 27, halted for four months all admissions of refugees into the US, and froze for 90 days immigration from seven countries: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, and Yemen. Its hasty rollout caused chaos at airports nationwide, leaving some refugees and visa-holders stranded for hours.

Justice Department lawyer August Flentje argued on Tuesday that freezing Trump’s order was an unlawful check on the president’s authority over national security decisions. Trump has maintained the order is necessary to defend the country from terrorism. 

However, lawsuits filed around the country have accused the White House of unconstitutionally targeting Muslims — accusations buttressed by Trump’s own campaign promise to temporarily halt the entry of Muslims into the US.

“We are a nation of laws,” Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson told reporters Thursday evening. “Those laws apply to everyone in our country, and that includes the president of the United States of America.

The three judges on the panel were Michelle Friedland, appointed by Barack Obama; William Canby Jr., appointed by Jimmy Carter; and Richard Clifton, appointed by George W. Bush.

Should Trump appeal to the Supreme Court, his prospects are unclear. The court’s eight justices are split evenly in their ideological leanings, and a tie would leave the 9th Circuit ruling in place.

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