On Thursday, a federal panel of judges unanimously rejected President Trump’s bid to reinstate his ban on travel into the United States from seven largely Muslim nations. The three-judge panel, suggesting that the ban did not advance national security, said the administration had shown “no evidence” that anyone from seven nations, including Iraq and Iran, had committed terrorist acts in the United States.
The travel ban, one of the first executive orders Trump issued after taking office, suspended worldwide refugee entry into the US, and also barred visitors from seven Muslim-majority nations — Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, for up to 90 days to give federal security agencies time to impose stricter vetting processes.
Immediately after the ban was issued, chaos ensued at airports and protests nationwide as foreign travelers found themselves stranded at immigration checkpoints by a policy that critics derided as un-American. According to the State Department, up to 60,000 foreigners’ visas were cancelled in the days immediately after the ban was imposed.
The US President’s claim that courts are powerless to review a president’s national security assessments have also been rejected. Judges have a crucial role to play in a constitutional democracy, the court said.
“It is beyond question,” the decision said, “that the federal judiciary retains the authority to adjudicate constitutional challenges to executive action.”
The decision was handed down by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco. It upheld a ruling last Friday by a federal district judge, James L. Robart, who blocked key parts of the travel ban, which allowed thousands of foreigners to enter the United States.
The appeals court acknowledged that President Trump was owed deference on his immigration and national security policies, however, it said he was claiming something more — that “national security concerns are unreviewable, even if those actions potentially contravene constitutional rights and protections.”
After the ruling, Trump angrily vowed to fight it, presumably in an appeal to the Supreme Court.
He wrote on Twitter: “SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!”
SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 9, 2017
At the White House, Trump told reporters that the ruling was “a political decision” and predicted that his administration would win an appeal “in my opinion, very easily.”
The Trump administration has moved fast in the case so far, and it is likely to file an emergency application to the Supreme Court in a day or two. The court typically asks for a prompt response from the other side, and it could rule soon after it is received.