In a major blow his administration's immigration policies, a federal appeals court ruled not to reinstate President Donald Trump's ban on travelers from seven predominantly Muslim nations on Thursday. In a ruling increasing the likelihood the case will end up before the Supreme Court, the court said it was "beyond question" that federal courts had the authority to hear constitutional challenges to presidential executive actions. While the court minced no words in its ruling regarding its authority to oversee the president, what did the court say about Trump's travel ban?
"We hold that the Government has not shown a likelihood of success on the merits of its appeal, nor has it shown that failure to enter a stay would cause irreparable injury," a 29-page ruling handed down from Circuit Judges William C. Canby, Richard R. Clifton, and Michelle T. Friedland said. "We therefore deny its emergency motion for a stay."
The case had been brought before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco, California shortly after U.S. District Judge James Robart in Seattle issued a temporary restraining order suspending key parts of the president's executive order on immigration last week. Following Robart's ruling, which allowed travelers previously barred by Trump's executive order to enter the United States, the Justice Department filed a request with the Ninth Circuit to stay his order while the case made its way through the courts. During arguments delivered Feb. 7, the three-judge panel hearing the case appeared skeptical of both the government's request to stay the ruling and the broad scope Robart's order.
In their ruling, the judges concluded that the States had demonstrated harms to their proprietary interests which could be traced back to the president's executive order.
The ruling also rejected the Justice Department's argument that the president had "unreviewable authority to suspend the admission of any class of aliens."
While the judges emphasized their analysis of the Government's potential to succeed on appeal "is a preliminary one," based only on the strength of the arguments and evidence they put forth, they ultimately ruled the government had not made a strong showing.
In their ruling, the judges dismiss the government's argument "that most or all" of those affected by Trump's executive order on immigration "have no rights under the Due Process Clause found in the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution."
The judges also contend that President Trump's repeated promises to implement a "Muslim ban" could be cited as evidence of the executive order's intent to discriminate or favor one religious group over another.
In response to arguments that the order was necessary to prevent terrorist attacks, the judges' ruling called attention to the Government's failure to provide any evidence to support their claim.
Although the ruling issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Thursday centered only on whether the president's travel ban should be blocked while other courts hear cases on its legality, Trump's administration will likely appeal the decision at the Supreme Court.
You can read the full transcript of the court's opinion on reinstating President Trump's immigration order here.