Hawaii AG: An appeal of travel ban ruling likely

It maintained the 120-day ban on all USA admission of refugees, those fleeing violence or persecution in their homeland, but removed a provision giving future preference to refugees from minority religions, which Trump had said was meant to help Christians from Muslim nations. U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson is hearing arguments on whether to extend his temporary order until Hawaii's lawsuit works its way through the courts.

Watson's ruling is an affirmation of America's value of religious freedom and allows Muslims and refugees to face less uncertainty, the state attorney general's office said in a statement.

The government says the ban falls within the president's power to protect national security. Several hours later, he issued a 24-page order blocking the government from suspending new visas for travelers from six Muslim-majority countries and halting the USA refugee program.

But Watson rejected the argument. "Both times he's done the travel ban, the reason he's given for it doesn't seem to make sense", said Erman. "That is because the entirety of the executive order runs afoul of the establishment clause".

Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin told the judge at Wednesday's hearing that the revised travel ban barely attempts to "sanitize" the blatant discrimination that doomed its precursor in the courts. But Watson questioned that reasoning by noting that the government said there have been 20 refugees resettled in Hawaii since 2010. I don't think this Hawaii hack judge, who happens to be a friend of [former President Barack] Obama [and] former classmate at Yale Law School, [is] going to prevail.

"In whose judgment?" Watson shot back.

Hawaii was the first state to sue the government over this controversial executive order.

Judge Watson said Hawaii has shown that the ban will harm the state's universities and tourism industry as well as the imam of a Honolulu mosque, who joined the lawsuit.

A judge in Hawaii has extended his previous block of Trump's travel ban.

"We can not fault the president for being politically incorrect, but we do fault him for being constitutionally incorrect", Chin said.

While exempting permanent U.S. residents and people who already had visas, the new policy imposed a 90-day ban on new visas for travellers from the six countries. The executive order was already on hold, meaning it can't be carried out, and now it's just staying on hold.

Faced with that division, it is expected that the case will end in the Supreme Court, which now has eight members since the Senate has not yet confirmed Neil Gorsuch, nominated by Trump to occupy the ninth and last position of the country's main judicial body.

The ruling doesn't change the status quo.

Judge Watson's initial ruling was no exception.

"Where the 'historical context and 'the specific sequence of events leading up to" the adoption of the challenged Executive Order are as full of religious animus, invective, and obvious pretext as is the record here, it is no wonder that the Government urges the Court to altogether ignore that history and context", Watson wrote.

"The Department of Justice strongly disagrees with the federal district court's ruling", a department spokeswoman wrote in an emailed statement Thursday.

An appeal against the Hawaii decision would be expected to go next to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals - the same court which in February said it would not block a ruling by a Seattle court to halt the original travel ban.

The Justice Department also said that the new executive order was well within the President's reach, and should not have been taken down.

  • Leroy Wright