President Donald Trump was preparing a rally in Nashville, Tennessee, when news broke that a federal judge halted his second executive order banning travel from six majority-Muslim countries. At the Nashville event, Trump rallied his supporters and discussed his administration's various "wins" in his first 50 days in office before getting to what he called "the bad news." Trump responded to the halted travel ban order by trashing the media, the court, and somehow Hillary Clinton as well. Said Trump:
But let me give you the bad news. We don’t like bad news, right? I don’t want to hear it. And I’ll turn it into good. Let me give you the bad, the sad news. Moments ago, I learned that a district judge in Hawaii, part of the much-overturned Ninth Circuit Court — and I have to be nice, otherwise I’ll get criticized for speaking poorly about our courts. I’ll be criticized by people who are among the most dishonest people in the world. I will be criticized. I’ll be criticized by them for speaking harshly about our courts, I would never want to do that.
A judge has just blocked our executive order on travel and refugees coming into our country from certain countries. The order he blocked was a watered down version of the first order that was also blocked by another judge, and should have never been blocked to start with. This new order was tailored to the dictates of the Ninth circuit’s, in my opinion flawed, ruling. This is in the opinion of many an unprecedented judicial overreach. The law and the Constitution give the president the power to suspend immigration when he deems — or she, or she — fortunately it will not be Hillary, she — when he or she deems it to be in the national interest of our country.
There were many instances during his response that Trump paused as his crowd began chanting, "Lock her up," in response to the mention of former presidential rival Hillary Clinton, echoing the witch-hunt-like slogan adopted by Trump supporters at the Republican National Convention. Trump went on to say that he is prepared to take the case all the way to the Supreme Court, that he preferred the first order, and that the court resistance to the order "makes us look weak."
Despite the revised language and the elimination of Iraq from the second order, lawyers for the state of Hawaii argued that Trump's executive order still was in essence a "Muslim ban," and would hurt the state's economy by stifling international tourism (its biggest industry) and creating difficulty for businesses attempting to recruit international talent. Federal Judge Derrick K. Watson agreed, and issued a freeze on the ban in favor of Hawaii's lawsuit.
The Hawaii hearing was the second of three such hearings around the country on Mar. 15, scheduled to take place before the temporary ban began on Mar. 16. The other two were in Maryland and Washington, the latter of which was presided over by James Robart, the same judge who issued the first stay on Trump's initial executive order barring travel from seven Muslim-majority countries.
Although the Justice Department argued that the new order is "substantially different" from the first, which sparked nationwide protests and caused at least 746 people to be detained in airports around the country, one of Trump's own advisers asserted that the new order would have "the same basic policy outcome" as the first. In a Feb. 21 interview on Fox News, Stephen Miller said there were "only minor technical differences" between the first and second orders. These comments were cited in the court transcript of the Hawaii hearing.
The transcript also shows Judge Watson deciding that Trump's past remarks about Muslims offer "significant and unrebutted evidence of religious animus driving the promulgation" of the order.
Trump's response to the second travel ban stay is both unsurprising and shocking to watch, as the timing and his own seeming theatrical nature saw him deliver it to a hungry crowd. It likely reached its intended audience, and proves that the fight against Islamophobic travel bans is far from over.