Three separate courts heard arguments about Donald Trump’s revised travel ban on Wednesday, hours before the sweeping executive order was scheduled to take effect. Judges in Hawaii and Maryland issued orders blocking the revised ban, which would bar citizens of six Muslim-majority countries as well as refugees from all countries from entering the U.S.
What did the courts find?
In Hawaii, U.S. District Judge Derrick K. Watson cited statements made by Trump and his advisors as the basis for his opinion that the order was intended to discriminate against Muslims. He added that the state had a “strong likelihood of success” of convincing the Supreme Court that it violated the Constitution. Watson issued a temporary restraining order preventing the policy from being enforced.
In Maryland, Judge Theodore D. Chuang reached essentially the same conclusion, writing that the new executive order represents “the effectuation of the proposed Muslim ban.” Chuang’s decision was narrower in focus, blocking only the 90-day ban on immigration from six Muslim-majority countries. Chuang found “strong indications that the national security purpose is not the primary purpose for the travel ban.”
In Washington, a judge heard arguments in two separate suits, one brought by a group of Democratic attorneys general and another by a group of nonprofits. Also in Washington, the federal appeals court that blocked Trump’s first travel ban refused to vacate the decision, leaving its original February injunction in place.
What do the decisions mean?
We’re back to the status quo that existed before Trump attempted his first executive order. Citizens of Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen (and Iraq, included in the first order) are able to travel to the United States, as are refugees from all countries.
“Enforcement of these provisions in all places, including the United States, at all United States borders and ports of entry, and in the issuance of visas is prohibited, pending further orders from this Court,” Watson wrote.
How long is this good for?
The Hawaii order will remain in effect until the next hearing, when the court will decide whether to extend it. The Maryland order, though, remains in effect until it is overturned by a higher court (or the court elects to lift the order itself).
The Justice Department on Wednesday vowed to fight the decisions. The Hawaii ruling, specifically, was “flawed both in reasoning and in scope,” the department said, adding that Trump’s executive order “falls squarely within his lawful authority in seeking to protect our Nation’s security, and the Department will continue to defend this Executive Order in the courts.”
Trump – who once threatened to fight an earlier decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals blocking enforcement of the order, but did not follow through – blasted the Hawaii court’s decision as “an unprecedented judicial overreach.” He also called the new executive order a “watered-down version of the first one” – remarks that will probably not help his case in court, if indeed his administration does attempt to fight the decision – and suggested resuscitating the the original order.