© Reuters. Trump delivers statements at the American Mobility Center in the municipality of Ypsilanti
By Dan Levine and Mica Rosenberg
HONOLULU / NEW YORK (Reuters) – A defiant President Donald Trump has vowed to appeal to the US Supreme Court if necessary to fight for his revised travel ban, parts of which have been detained by two different federal judges in recent days.
However, the legal path ahead will be challenging, as lawsuits work their way through federal courts on opposite sides of the country, in Hawaii and Maryland, as well as in Washington state, where one judge may soon rule over another. defiance of the new ban. .
The first step for the Justice Department would likely be to file an appeal in one or both cases, an action that will likely come in a few days. Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores declined to comment on the administration’s intentions.
In granting a temporary restraining order against the challenged ban in a lawsuit brought by the state of Hawaii, US District Judge Derrick Watson determined Wednesday that “a reasonable and objective observer … would conclude that the executive order was issued with the purpose of disapproving of a particular religion. “
Trump’s executive order would temporarily ban refugees and travelers from six predominantly Muslim countries. The president has said the ban is necessary for national security reasons.
Earlier Thursday, Federal District Judge Theodore Chuang issued a nationwide preliminary injunction in a Maryland case brought by refugee resettlement agencies represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Immigration Law Center.
Chuang ruled that the groups are likely to be able to show that the travel ban portion of the executive order was intended to ban Muslims and, as a result, violates the religious freedom guarantee of the US Constitution. It did not mandate the refugee part of the ban.
“To avoid sowing seeds of division in our nation, upholding this fundamental constitutional principle at the core of our nation’s identity clearly serves a significant public interest,” Chuang wrote in his ruling.
The court orders, while the plaintiffs’ victories, are only a first step in litigation and the government could ultimately win their underlying case. Watson and Chuang were appointed to the post by former Democratic President Barack Obama.
Trump, speaking after Hawaii’s ruling at a rally in Nashville on Wednesday, called his revised executive order a “watered-down version” of the first.
The president said he would take the case “as far as necessary,” including to the Supreme Court, in order to obtain a ruling that the ban is legal.
The likely next stops if the administration decides to challenge the two rulings would be the US 4th and 9th Circuit Courts of Appeals. Both can be cold spots for Trump’s arguments, with the majority of justices in each appointed by presidents. Democrats.
Three Ninth Circuit judges upheld a restraining order on the first travel ban issued by a federal judge in Washington state. Rather than appeal further, the administration lifted the ban, promising to restructure it in a way that addressed legal issues.
The Supreme Court is currently divided between four conservative and four liberal justices, without a ninth judge since Antonin Scalia’s death more than a year ago.
Trump’s candidate to fill the vacant Supreme Court seat, Neil Gorsuch, a 49-year-old conservative, is likely to be asked about the travel ban next week when he appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee for a confirmation hearing. .
Republicans expect the Senate to vote to confirm Gorsuch for court in mid-April, which would likely be too late for him to intervene in an emergency appeal over the travel ban.
Trump signed the new ban on March 6 in an attempt to overcome legal problems with his January executive order, which caused chaos at airports and sparked mass protests before a Washington judge halted its enforcement in February.
Watson’s order is only temporary until the broader arguments of the case can be heard. He established a schedule of expedited hearings to determine if his ruling should be extended.
Trump’s first travel order was broader than the revised second order. Like the current one, it barred citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the United States for 90 days, but it also included Iraq. The first travel order also banned all refugees for 120 days and indefinitely banned refugees from Syria. The revised travel order did not mandate separate treatment for Syrian refugees.
The revised order also excluded existing legal permanent residents and visa holders from the ban and provided exemptions for various categories of immigrants with ties to the United States.
Hawaii and other opponents of the ban claimed that the motivation behind it was Trump’s campaign promise of “a complete and total shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”