For more on all this, we turn to Devlin Barrett, who now covers the Justice Department and national security issues for The Washington Post. But a draft report from the Department of Homeland Security, cited in Watson’s ruling, found that national origin is an “unlikely indicator” that a person poses a terrorist threat to the United States.
The Hawaii ruling also halted a 120-day suspension of the United States refugee admissions program.
The government has maintained in court that the changes resolve any legal issues with the original order. A day earlier, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the government planned to seek clarification of the Hawaii order before appealing to the 9th Circuit.
In one particularly strong passage, Watson rebuked the administration’s assertion that because the ban does not apply to all Muslims it therefore can not be discriminatory.
In a decision published Thursday morning, US District Court Judge Theodore Chuang imposed a nationwide halt to the portion of the President’s executive order that barred foreign nationals from six majority-Muslim nations from entering the country. Both the Maryland and Hawaii judges pointed to remarks by Trump and his advisers suggesting the real goal behind the order was anti-Muslim bias.
“I think we ought to go back to the first one [executive order] and go all the way …” That means that, assuming the appeals go through, you will see appeals courts ruling in one part of the country and another part of the country, and oftentimes, just the way the court system works, those rulings don’t match up identically.
A federal judge in Hawaii blocked the revised travel ban, citing comments made by Miller, Rudy Giuliani and Trump, that “betray the Executive Order’s stated secular goal”.
Three strikes and you’re out?
Speaking at a rally in Nashville, Trump called his revised executive order a “watered-down version” of his first.
The attorneys also assert that the ban is a valid exercise of the president’s authority to temporarily suspend certain classes of aliens from entering the country, contending that it draws distinctions based on the risk of terrorism, not religion.
Opponents have argued that if that aspect of the ban takes effect, 60,000 people would be stranded in war-torn countries with nowhere else to go. Trump lashed out at the judge’s ruling, saying it “makes us look weak”.
In a statement responding to the Hawaii ruling, the Justice Department called it “flawed both in reasoning and in scope”. Chuang, in Maryland, blocked only the six-nation visa ban.
Watson’s order capped off a whirlwind day of court hearings around the country, with plaintiffs in both Maryland and Washington State also seeking to block the ban before it was set to take effect Thursday.
Cornell University Law School professor Stephen Yale-Loehr warned Trump against a protracted battle. Watson was able to cite statements from Trump’s own aides – including a statement from senior adviser Stephen Miller just before the revised ban was announced – admitting that the initial travel ban was targeted at Muslims and that the second ban was created to achieve the same outcome as the first one. This year they declined to hear a potentially landmark case about transgender rights that they had previously said they would hear.