“Second verse, same as the first” . . .
Donald Trump’s revised travel ban from earlier this month, issued after he dropped court appeals of his first badly flawed travel ban, faced immediate legal challenges in multiple courts.
Today the U.S. District Court for Hawaii issued a nationwide restraining order against implementation of the revised travel ban hours before it was to go into effect. Federal Judge Blocks Trump’s Latest Travel Ban Nationwide:
A federal judge in Hawaii issued a nationwide order (.pdf) Wednesday evening blocking President Trump’s ban on travel from parts of the Muslim world, dealing a political blow to the White House and signaling that proponents of the ban face a long and risky legal battle ahead.
The ruling was the second frustrating defeat for Mr. Trump’s travel ban, after a federal court in Seattle halted an earlier version of the executive order last month. Mr. Trump responded to that setback with fury, lashing out at the judiciary before ultimately abandoning [an appeal from] the order.
He issued a new and narrower travel ban on March 6, with the aim of pre-empting new lawsuits by abandoning some of the most contentious elements of the first version.
But Mr. Trump evidently failed in that goal: Democratic states and nonprofit groups that work with immigrants and refugees raced into court to attack the updated order, alleging that it was a thinly veiled version of the ban on Muslim migration that he had pledged to enact last year, as a presidential candidate.
Administration lawyers argued in multiple courts on Wednesday that the president was merely exercising his national security powers and that no element of the executive order, as written, could be construed as a religious test for travelers.
But in the lawsuit brought by Hawaii’s attorney general, Doug Chin, Judge Derrick K. Watson appeared skeptical of the government’s claim that past comments by Mr. Trump and his allies had no bearing on the case.
“Are you saying we close our eyes to the sequence of statements before this?” Judge Watson, who was appointed by former President Barack Obama, asked in a hearing Wednesday before he ruled against the administration.
The [revised travel ban] exempted key groups, like green card and visa holders, and dropped the section that would have given Christians special treatment.
Mr. Trump also removed Iraq from the list of countries covered by the ban after the Pentagon expressed worry that it would damage the United States’ relationship with the Iraqi government in the fight against the Islamic State.
Yet those concessions did not placate critics of the ban, who argue that it still imposes a de facto religious test on travelers from big parts of the Middle East.
The lawsuits have also claimed that the order disrupts the functions of companies, charities, public universities and hospitals that have deep relationships overseas. In the Hawaii case, nearly five dozen technology companies, including Airbnb, Dropbox, Lyft and TripAdvisor, joined in a brief objecting to the travel ban.
The [revised travel ban] preserves major components of the original. It halts, with few exceptions, the granting of new visas and green cards to people from six majority-Muslim countries — Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — for at least 90 days. It also stops all refugees from entering for 120 days and limits refugee admissions to 50,000 people in the current fiscal year. Former President Barack Obama had set in motion plans to admit more than twice that number.
The judge’s order was not a ruling on the constitutionality of Mr. Trump’s ban, and the administration has consistently expressed confidence that courts will ultimately affirm Mr. Trump’s power to issue the restrictions.
But the legal debate is likely to be a protracted and unusually personal fight for the administration, touching Mr. Trump and a number of his key aides directly and raising the prospect that their public comments and private communications will be scrutinized extensively.
Multiple lawsuits challenging the travel ban have extensively cited Mr. Trump’s comments during the presidential campaign. He first proposed to bar all Muslims from entering the United States, and then offered an alternative plan to ban travel from a number of Muslim countries, which he described as a politically acceptable way of achieving the same goal.
The lawsuits also cited Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who advises Mr. Trump, who said he had been asked to help craft a Muslim ban that would pass legal muster.
And they highlighted comments by Stephen Miller, an adviser to the president, who cast the changes to Mr. Trump’s first travel ban as mere technical adjustments aimed at ushering the same policy past the review of a court.
Bob Ferguson, the Washington attorney general, has indicated that in an extended legal fight, his office could seek depositions from administration officials and request documents that would expose the full process by which Trump aides crafted the ban.
Mr. Trump has reacted with fury to unfavorable court rulings in the past, savaging the judiciary after the court in Seattle blocked major parts of his first travel order and singling out the judge for derision on Twitter.
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The president’s comments were so biting that even his nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, told senators that attacks on the judiciary were “demoralizing.”
If Mr. Trump lashes out again at the judiciary, it could set the stage in an uncomfortable way for Mr. Gorsuch’s confirmation hearings, which begin next week.
Stay tuned for the Twitter-troll-in-chief to go on another Twitter tirade against federal judges in the next several hours.
A second federal judge issued a restraining order (.pf) Thursday blocking enforcement of one of the critical sections of President Trump’s revised travel ban, using Trump’s own comments against him in deciding the ban was likely to run afoul of the Constitution.
The decision from U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang in federal court in Maryland marks another win for challengers of the president’s executive order, which had been slated to take effect at 12:01 a.m. Thursday. Earlier, a different federal judge in Hawaii stopped it.
Chuang’s order did not sweep as broadly as the one in Hawaii, but he similarly declared that even the revised travel ban was intended to discriminate against Muslims. He said those wanting evidence of anti-Muslim intent need look no further than what the president himself has said about it.
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Chuang wrote that he “should not, and will not, second-guess the conclusion that national security interests would be served by the travel ban,” but if the national security rationale was secondary to an attempt to disfavor a particular religion, he had no choice but to block the executive order.
“In this highly unique case,” he wrote, “the record provides strong indications that the national security purpose is not the primary purpose for the travel ban.”
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Chuang blocked only the provision of the new order affecting the issuance of visas to those from the six affected countries. He said those suing had “not provided a sufficient basis” for him to declare the other sections invalid.
In Hawaii, U.S. District Judge Derrick K. Watson had gone further, also suspending the portion of the order that affected refugees.
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Chuang’s ruling won’t upend or call into question the decision in Hawaii, instead offering some measure of reinforcement.
“The history of public statements continues to provide a convincing case that the purpose of the Second Executive Order remains the realization of the long-envisioned Muslim ban,” Chuang wrote.
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The government’s next legal step is unclear.
At a rally in Nashville on Wednesday, Trump said he was prepared to take the case to the Supreme Court. He also mused a return to his original executive order, which imposed a more sweeping ban than the second.
“Let me tell you something. I think we ought to go back to the first one and go all the way,” Trump said. “The danger is clear, the law is clear, the need for my executive order is clear.”
The same federal district court judge in Washington who blocked Trump’s first travel ban is also considering challenges to the new one. A ruling is pending.