A U.S. federal appeals court will hear arguments on Tuesday over whether to restore President Donald Trump's temporary travel ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries, the most controversial policy of his two-week old administration.
In a brief filed on Monday, the Justice Department said last week's suspension of Trump's order by a federal judge was too broad and "at most" should be limited to people who were already granted entry to the country and were temporarily abroad, or to those who want to leave and return to the United States.
That language did not appear in the government’s opening brief filed at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and could represent a softening of its position.
|Roodo Abdishakur (2nd L), a Somali national who was delayed entry to the U.S. because of the recent travel ban, is greeted by her mother Zahra Warsma (L) at Washington Dulles International Airport in Chantilly, Virginia, U.S. February 6, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Last Friday's ruling by U.S. District Judge James Robart in Seattle suspending the travel ban opened a window for people from the seven affected countries to enter..
The 9th Circuit in San Francisco on Monday asked lawyers for the states of Washington and Minnesota and the Justice Department to argue whether the ban should remain shelved. The court set oral argument for 3 p.m. PST on Tuesday.
The new Republican president has said the travel measures are to protect the country against the threat of terrorism. Opponents say the 90-day ban is illegal, barring entry for citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen and imposing a 120-day halt to all refugees.
National security veterans, major U.S. technology companies and law enforcement officials from more than a dozen states backed a legal effort against the ban.
The case may ultimately reach the U.S. Supreme Court.
Ten former U.S. national security and foreign policy officials, who served under both Republican and Democratic presidents, filed a declaration in the court case arguing that the travel ban served no national security purposes.
It was signed by former Secretaries of State John Kerry and Madeleine Albright, former national security adviser Susan Rice and former CIA Directors Michael Hayden and Michael Morell.
Over the weekend, the San Francisco court denied the administration's request for an immediate suspension of the federal judge's temporary restraining order that blocked the implementation of key parts of the travel ban while it considered the government's request in full.