Federal judge in Hawaii puts revised travel ban on hold; Trump says ruling ‘makes us look weak’

HONOLULU, Hawaii (AP)  — A federal judge on Wednesday issued a temporary restraining order against President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban, just hours before it was to go into effect.

U.S. District Court Judge Derrick Watson heard arguments regarding the injunction request before issuing his ruling.

The new travel ban was to take effect at 12:01 a.m. EDT Thursday (9:01 p.m. PDT Wednesday).

Trump decried the ruling during a rally Wednesday night in Nashville, introducing his statement as “the bad, the sad news.”

“The order he blocked was a watered-down version of the first one,” Trump said.

“This is, in the opinion of many, an unprecedented judicial overreach,” he added, saying it “makes us look weak.”

He says he’s going to fight the decision and take it all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary. And he says, “We’re going to win.”

The Trump administration took over a month to rewrite the travel ban order after multiple federal courts blocked its implementation last month. Unlike the previous executive order, the new one removed Iraq from the list of banned countries, exempted those with green cards and visas, and removed a provision that arguably prioritizes certain religious minorities.

In Hawaii, Watson concluded in no uncertain terms that the new executive order still failed to pass legal muster.

"The illogic of the Government's contentions is palpable. The notion that one can demonstrate animus toward any group of people only by targeting all of them at once is fundamentally flawed," Watson wrote.

"Equally flawed is the notion that the Executive Order cannot be found to have targeted Islam because it applies to all individuals in the six referenced countries," Watson added. "It is undisputed, using the primary source upon which the Government itself relies, that these six countries have overwhelmingly Muslim populations that range from 90.7% to 99.8%.

"It would therefore be no paradigmatic leap to conclude that targeting these countries likewise targets Islam," Watson added. "Certainly, it would be inappropriate to conclude, as the Government does, that it does not."

In his ruling, Watson also cited "questionable evidence supporting the government's national security motivation."

Watson also said Hawaii would suffer financially if the executive order goes into effect and blocks the flow of students and tourists to the state.

More than half a dozen states are trying to stop the ban, and federal courts in Maryland and Washington state also heard arguments Wednesday about whether it should be put into practice.

Hawaii argued that the ban discriminates on the basis of nationality and would prevent Hawaii residents from receiving visits from relatives in the six mostly Muslim countries covered by the ban.

The state also says the ban would harm its tourism industry and the ability to recruit foreign students and workers.

Other hearings were held Wednesday in federal courts in Maryland and Washington state challenging the ban.

In Seattle, U.S. District Court Judge James Robart heard Washington state's new motion to block the revised Trump travel order, but issued no immediate ruling.

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson was at the hearing in Seattle when he got word that a judge in Hawaii had put the ban on hold.

"Fantastic news," Ferguson said afterward. "It's very exciting. At this point it's a team effort — multiple lawsuits and multiple states."

The judge in Hawaii who put Trump's revised travel ban on hold was nominated to the federal bench by President Barack Obama. Watson got his nod in 2012 and is currently the only Native Hawaiian judge serving on the federal bench and the fourth in U.S. history.

He received his law degree from Harvard Law School in 1991.

His 43-page decision Wednesday was released less than two hours after the hearing ended.