Second Trump travel ban gets appeals hearing in Seattle Monday

A three-judge federal panel on Monday pressed lawyers for President Trump to justify his proposed travel ban of visitors from six Muslim-majority countries, bombarding them with questions concerning the president's previous statements about Muslims and wondering aloud whether the order violates the Constitution.

In initiating the legal challenge against the second travel ban on March 9, Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin noted that the new order, compared with the initial ban, "nothing of substance has changed: there is the same blanket ban on entry from Muslim-majority countries".

The judges did not mention when they will issue a ruling on the matter. When U.S. District Judge William Orrick first blocked Trump's executive order on holding back federal funds from so-called sanctuary cities like Berkeley, Oakland and San Francisco, the president erroneously attributed the decision to the 9th Circuit, tweeting out "First the Ninth Circuit rules against the ban & now it hits again on sanctuary cities - both ridiculous rulings".

"The executive order sets out national security justifications, but how is a court to know whether in fact it's a Muslim ban in the guise of national security justification?" asked Judge Ronald Gould.

Trump signed a new version of the travel ban executive order in March after federal courts across the country blocked enforcement of the first version, finding that it was likely unconstitutional.

"If some other President had done this (signed the order) without (making) statements, this executive order would nearly certainly be constitutional", he said, arguing that the court shouldn't rely on Trump's statements on the campaign trail, but on the text of the policy, which he said was necessary to protect the country from terrorism.

The revised order cites the example of a native of Somalia who was brought to the U.S.as a refugee when he was a child and later became a citizen.

Judge Michael Daly Hawkins asked challengers to Trump's ban about the wide latitude held by USA presidents to decide who can enter the country.

For the second time in a week, government lawyers are trying to persuade federal judges that President Trump's travel ban isn't created to discriminate against Muslims.

"You don't need to be Sigmund Freud to affirm the district court", Katyal said. In this image made from a C-SPAN video, participants and members in the gallery stand as three judges for the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals enter the room in Seattle, Monday, May 15, 2017.

Monday's hearing came a week after a federal court in Maryland also heard arguments on whether to uphold a separate judge's decision blocking the ban.

Katyal said no, and suggested the president could begin by repudiating his earlier statements or by working with Congress.

Trump has not been shy about criticizing judges who rule against him, but he seems to have particular ire for the 9th Circuit.

"Has the president ever disavowed his campaign statements?" Wall said he wasn't familiar with the details of the order, but he couldn't imagine a court saying it would survive under the standard the government was asking the court to apply.

This is the second travel ban created by the Trump administration. Hawaii sued the Trump administration over the EO and won a temporary restraining order preventing the ban from being implemented. "United States", a disastrous Supreme Court decision that justified the internment of Japanese Americans in camps during World War II on the reasoning the government said there was a risk some might be spies for the Japanese government, and this threat outweighed their individual rights. Because Congress has already adopted a scheme regarding when people may be excluded from the country for terror-related activities, the president can not override that with his travel ban, they argue.

Monday's arguments before a three-judge appeals panel in Seattle played out much like a hearing last week in Richmond, Virginia.

Neal Katyal, a lead attorney for Hawaii, pointed out that Wall could only cite an evolution of Trump's rhetoric, rather than any explicit renunciation of his calls for a "Muslim ban".

"That is the million dollar question", said Katyal.

  • Zachary Reyes