9th Circuit Court hears arguments on Trump's revised travel ban

President Trump's Muslim ban was being defended in front of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals again Monday, and by the time the three-judge panel had finished hearing arguments, it was looking as though the executive order would once again fail due to the president's own candid remarks about its intent on the campaign trail.

Katyal, who was acting USA solicitor general under President Barack Obama, is representing Hawaii in its request to uphold a Honolulu federal judge's ruling keeping the president's March 6 order from taking effect.

Hawaii-based U.S. District Judge Derrick K. Watson issued a prelimidnary injunction after concluding there was ample evidence to show that anti-Muslim sentiment motivated Trump's action. The travel ban - key sections of which have been frozen by two courts - tried to temporarily shut down the United States refugee programme and suspend the issuance of new visas to residents of six Muslim-majority countries.

The comments came after a three-judge panel from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Seattle heard arguments Monday in a lawsuit filed by Hawaii over the ban.

Just like oral arguments in a separate case about the travel ban last week, Trump's comments took center stage in this argument, including his campaign promise for a "Muslim ban" and saying "we all know what that means" when signing the first version of the executive order.

Streamed live through the website of the US Courts for the 9th Circuit from a court room in Seattle, Washington state, the three judges grilled Acting US Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall for his defense on behalf of the Trump administration.

"Would the Korematsu executive order pass muster under your test today?" That's the ruling that put the revised travel ban on hold back in March. Judge Ronald Gould asked.

"I want to be very clear about this", Wall said solemnly.

The case now awaits a written ruling from the judges, which could be appealed again to the supreme court.

Wall argued that the Supreme Court's 1972 ruling in Kleindienst v. Mandel determined the president has the authority to deny the entry of noncitizens based on "facially legitimate and bona fide reasons".

"Again, in this court, the President claims a almost limitless power to make immigration policy that is all but immune from judicial review", Hawaii Attorney General Douglas Chin wrote to the 9th Circuit.

He said Congress had set rules on vetting foreigners before they enter the United States and Trump could not claim sweeping powers and take a "magic eraser" to long-standing policies.

The court is weighing Trump's appeal of a March decision that put a nationwide hold on his executive order barring USA entry by or visas for nationals of Iran, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen for 90 days and blocking all refugees for 120 days.

"Do you agree there is a bad-faith exception?"

Hawaii also cited a draft report from the Department of Homeland Security that said citizenship was an "unlikely indicator" of future terrorism and that few individuals from the targeted countries have been involved in terrorism in the U.S.

A USA government attorney insisted Monday that President Donald Trump's revised travel ban did not unfairly target Muslims, in the latest twist in a monthslong legal battle that has dogged the new U.S. administration.

Katyal, who served as acting solicitor general under former President Barack Obama, also argued that the judges have to perform no "psychoanalysis" of Trump to see that "this is a repeated pattern of the president". "And as the district court found, it would view them as the establishment of a disfavored religion of Islam".

The Justice Department separately appealed a different federal judge's decision to halt the 90-day travel ban to the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals.

Appearing somewhat unsettled by the question, Wall strenuously insisted that the two were nowhere almost alike.

The March order was Trump's second effort to craft travel restrictions.

Wall said yes, but the criteria would have to be "really high" to prove Trump actually meant to ban Muslims, which would be prohibited under the First Amendment. "And we respectfully submit that this court shouldn't treat it like one".

  • Leroy Wright