President Trump’s controversial executive order temporarily restricting immigration to the U.S. will not be reinstated at this time, thanks to a decision by a panel of three judges from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
The unanimous decision came Thursday afternoon after the judges heard oral arguments from the Department of Justice and Washington state Attorney General’s Office Tuesday.
Appellate judges William Canby, Richard Clifton, and Michelle Friedland declined to grant the DOJ’s motion for an emergency stay of the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) currently blocking the immigration ban’s implementation because 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.”
Trump’s attorneys were seeking to undo the TRO that Judge James Robart issued in Seattle Friday. The order immediately halted implementation of a 90-day travel ban that sought to prevent immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S.
Washington’s AG was quick to respond on Twitter.
DENIED. UNANIMOUS. PER CURIUM.
— WA Attorney General (@AGOWA) February 9, 2017
President Trump also responded to the ruling on Twitter.
SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 9, 2017
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson fired back at Trump and applauded the judges’ decision in a press conference Thursday afternoon.
“We have seen him in court twice and we’re two for two,” said Ferguson. “That’s number one and, in my view, the future of the Constitution is at stake … we respect that the president has broad authority in the Constitution with executive orders, but they still have to follow the Constitution. The bottom line — and we firmly believe — that this executive order does not.”
The DOJ will likely appeal today’s decision escalating the TRO matter to the Supreme Court.
During Tuesday’s hearing, DOJ Special Counsel August Flentje argued the decision to issue a TRO to halt President Trump’s immigration ban was overbroad. He claimed the president was well within his authority to suspend entry of a class of foreign nationals, under immigration law.
“The active exclusion of aliens is a fundamental act of sovereignty within the powers of Congress and the president,” Flentje said during the hearing.
The judges pressed Flentje to provide evidence that Trump’s executive order was necessary for the protection of the American people. Flentje deflected, claiming that the states and judiciary do not have the authority to look behind the intentions of an executive order pertaining to national security.
It seems that tactic backfired for the DOJ.
“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’ decision says. “Rather than present evidence to explain the need for the Executive Order, the Government has taken the position that we must not review its decision at all. We disagree, as explained above.”
The office of Washington’s AG, on the other hand, presented evidence of financial harm to the state public institutions, economy, and citizens.
“We had students and faculties at our state universities that were stranded overseas, we had permanent residents who suffered…we lost tax revenue,” said Washington state Solicitor General Noah Purcell during Tuesday’s hearing.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee called Thursday’s ruling a “total victory” for the state of Washington and “more importantly for America because it reaffirms that no one is above the law, including presidents.”
We've seen how the temporary restraining order has helped reunite families and allowed people to come home and do their jobs. pic.twitter.com/8c9nsCvkoL
— Governor Jay Inslee (@GovInslee) February 10, 2017
Today’s decision and Tuesday’s hearing just affect the fate of the TRO; a broader lawsuit brought by Washington state and Minnesota, to determine the legality of Trump’s executive order, is still playing out.
During Thursday’s press conference, Ferguson said he expects the constitutionality of the executive order will be determined before Judge Robart in the federal trial court in Seattle.
Immigration is a critical issue for the tech and business community, which thrives on international talent and diverse workforces. More than 100 business — including tech giants and startups — have filed amicus briefs supporting Washington and Minnesota’s case.
“I really appreciate the support of businesses like Expedia and Amazon who, on the very first weekend, when we reached out to them, worked over the weekend to get those first declarations in on Monday when we filed,” Ferguson said Thursday. “Then, of course, the additional 97 or so companies like Google, Microsoft, and others joined. We deeply appreciate that. I think what’s going to move any particular judge or justice, I can’t speak to that. What I can say, is I think that those declarations from those many, many companies [show] the significant adverse impacts this executive order has had on the people and businesses of this state.”
Read the full decision below.