U.S. President Donald Trump suffered a legal blow on Thursday when a federal appeals court refused to reinstate a temporary travel ban he had ordered on people from seven Muslim-majority countries.
A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that the Trump administration failed to offer any evidence that national security concerns justified immediately restoring the ban, which he launched two weeks ago.
Shortly after the court issued its 29-page ruling, Trump tweeted: "SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!" He told reporters his administration ultimately would win the case and dismissed the ruling as "political."
|Iranian citizen and U.S green card holder Cyrus Khosravi (L) greets his brother, Hamidreza Khosravi (C), and niece, Dena Khosravi (R), 2, after they were detained for additional screening following their arrival to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to visit Cyrus, during a pause in U.S. President Donald Trump's travel ban in SeaTac, Washington, U.S. February 6, 2017. REUTERS/David Ryder
The 9th Circuit ruling, upholding last Friday's decision by U.S. District Judge James Robart, does not resolve the lawsuit. It relates only to whether to lift an emergency halt to Trump's order put in place by a lower court.
The judges said more briefing would be needed to decide the actual fate of Trump's order.
The Justice Department, which spoke for the administration at oral argument on Tuesday, said it was reviewing the decision and considering its options.
The states of Washington and Minnesota challenged Trump's order, which had sparked protests and chaos at U.S. and overseas airports on the weekend after it was issued. The two states argued that Trump’s ban violated constitutional protections against religious discrimination.
Asked about Trump's tweet, Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson said: "We have seen him in court twice, and we're two for two."
While the court said it could not decide whether the order discriminated against a particular religion until the case had been “fully briefed," it added that the states had presented evidence of “numerous statements” by the president “about his intent to implement a ‘Muslim ban.’”
The court said the government had failed to show that any person from the seven countries had perpetrated a terrorist attack in the United States.
The administration argued that the courts do not have access to the same classified information about threats to the country that the president does. The judges countered that “courts regularly receive classified information under seal.”
Trump's Jan. 27 executive order barred entry for citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days and imposed a 120-day halt on all refugees, except refugees from Syria who are barred indefinitely.
The three judges said the states had shown that even temporary reinstatement of the ban would cause harm.