By Mica Rosenberg
NEW YORK (Reuters) – The U.S. government took the legal battle over President Donald Trump’s travel ban to a higher court on Friday, saying it would appeal a federal judge’s decision to overturn parts of the ban on the day it was scheduled for execution. indeed.
The Justice Department said in a court filing that it would appeal a ruling by US District Judge Theodore Chuang in Maryland to the US Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond, Virginia.
On Thursday, Chuang issued an emergency halt to the part of Trump’s March 6 executive order temporarily banning travelers from six Muslim-majority countries. He left in place the section of the order that prohibited the entry of refugees into the United States for four months.
Another federal judge in Hawaii struck down both sections of the ban in a broader court ruling that prevented Trump’s order from moving forward.
In Washington state, where the ban is also being challenged, US District Court Judge James Robart stayed the proceedings while the nationwide temporary restraining order from the Hawaii court was upheld, to “conserve resources “and avoid inconsistent and duplicate failures.
The decisions were made in response to lawsuits brought by state attorneys general in Hawaii and refugee resettlement agencies in Maryland, which were represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Center for Immigration Law.
Detractors argue that the ban discriminated against Muslims in violation of the guarantee of religious freedom in the United States Constitution. Trump says the move is necessary for national security to protect the country from terrorist attacks.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer told a news conference that the government “will vigorously defend this executive order” and appeal against “faulty rulings.”
The Justice Department filed a motion Friday night seeking clarification of Hawaii’s ruling before appealing to the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco.
Last month, the Ninth Circuit court upheld a decision by Judge Robart that halted an original and broader travel ban signed by the president on January 27 in response to a lawsuit filed by Washington state.
The new executive order was reissued with the intention of overcoming legal concerns.
Trump has vowed to take the fight to the US Supreme Court.
The Fourth Circuit is known as a more conservative court compared to the Ninth Circuit, said Buzz Frahn, an attorney for Simpson Thacher & Bartlett who has been following litigation across the country.
“The government is probably thinking that the 4th Circuit … will pay more attention to their arguments,” he said.
The judges have said they were willing to look beyond the text of the order, which does not mention Islam, to investigate the motivation for enacting the ban, Frahn said. Trump vowed during the election campaign to ban Muslims from entering the United States.
The US Supreme Court is currently split 4-4 between Liberals and Conservatives, and Trump’s pick for the highest court, Appellate Court Judge Neil Gorsuch, is still awaiting confirmation.
Hans von Spakovsky of the Washington DC-based Heritage Foundation said the Justice Department may want to schedule its appeals to go to the Supreme Court after Gorsuch is confirmed. He said the court is likely to hear the case.
“They will accept it because of its national importance,” Spakovsky said.
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