Appeals court refuses to reinstate Trump’s travel ban

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SAN FRANCISCO — A federal appeals court in San Francisco on Thursday refused to reinstate President Donald Trump’s ban on travelers from seven predominantly Muslim nations.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals announced its decision Thursday afternoon in San Francisco.

Three federal judges unanimously rejected the Justice Department’s arguments that the president’s authority on immigration policy is his discretion alone, with no authority for review by the courts.

The panel from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said there’s no precedent to support that notion, which “runs contrary to the fundamental structure of our constitutional democracy.”

“The Government has pointed to no evidence that any alien from any of the countries named in the Order has perpetrated a terrorist attack in the United States,” the judges wrote.

The court was deciding whether to block a lower-court ruling that suspended the ban and allowed previously barred travelers to enter the U.S.

Trump responded to the decision a few minutes later on Twitter.

The court ruled the U.S. government presented no evidence to explain the urgent need for Trump's executive order to take effect immediately.

The panel said courts have the authority to review presidential orders on immigration and national security.

"Finally, in evaluating the need for a stay, we must consider the public interest generally," the judges wrote. "Aspects of the public interest favor both sides, as evidenced by the massive attention this case has garnered at even the most preliminary stages. On the one hand, the public has a powerful interest in the national security and in the ability of an elected president to enact policies. And on the other, the public also has an interest in free flow of travel, and in avoiding separation of families, and in freedom from discrimination."

Governor Jay Inslee issued a statement after the ruling.

“The decision underscores the serious constitutional issues with President Trump’s executive order and emphasizes what Attorney General Ferguson has said throughout this case: that no one is above the law, not even the president," the statement reads.

“I’m proud of that Washington is a national leader in this fight. We were the first state to stand against this executive order. But all Americans need to be willing to stand and fight for our democracy, everywhere, every time, and in every way it is threatened.”

The U.S. Justice Department responded, saying it "is reviewing the decision and considering its options."

It's the first day on the job for new Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was sworn in at the White House earlier Thursday by Vice President Mike Pence.

An appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court is possible. To be successful, five of eight justices in the short-handed court would have to vote in favor.

Trump issued the travel ban on January 27, causing chaos, confusion and protests at international airports as the legal status of people in transition was suddenly thrown into question.

U.S. District Judge James Robart in Seattle issued a temporary restraining order halting the ban last week after Washington and Minnesota sued.

The administration said the seven nations — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — have raised terrorism concerns. The states argued that the ban targets Muslims.

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