Three federal judges with the 9th District U.S. Court of Appeals heard oral arguments Tuesday evening concerning Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration. The decision is in, and it looks like the Trump administration will have to take it to the Supreme Court.
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The hearing Tuesday lasted only an hour. The three judges denied the Trump camp’s petition to immediately reinstate the ban, and upheld the decision delivered by federal Judge James Robart of the US District Court for the Western District of Washington in a case brought by attorneys general for Washington and Minnesota. Both states had challenged the executive order, claiming the ban on immigration hurt the states financially.
The San Francisco-based court is widely thought of as the most liberal court in the nation, yet the three judges were hard on both lawyers who appeared before them.
Justice Department attorney August Flentje struggled to make his case for Trump’s executive order. His argument that the President alone had the right to make decisions on immigration seemed to fall flat with the court.
Judge Michelle T. Friedland, Judge Richard Clifton, and Judge William Canby traded questions with the lawyers representing both sides, and pushed both to demonstrate that their respective sides had evidence for their claims. The states of Washington and Minnesota are claiming the executive order has caused their states, their institutions, and their citizens unnecessary harm. The Trump administration is arguing that the lifting of the immigration and travel ban is allowing would-be terrorists to slip into the country undetected.
After Judge Robart struck down the ban, Donald Trump blasted him, calling him a “so-called judge.” Robart, for his part, was merciless in his questioning of both sides. The video below shows him dismantling Trump’s legal team.
After the President questioned Judge Robart’s authority, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson jumped to his defense. “My mother and father raised me to be gracious in victory and defeat as a kid,” Ferguson told CNN. “Based on those tweets it appears to me that’s a lesson that’s been lost on President Trump.”
The President’s team isn’t backing down. President Trump himself has claimed that he has the authority to make decisions on immigration, and that the courts have no authority to question those decisions.
“The Executive Order is a lawful exercise of the President’s authority over the entry of aliens into the United States and the admission of refugees,” a brief filed Monday night by his lawyers claimed.
President Trump went on to state that Judge Robart’s ruling had compromised the safety of the nation. “Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens blame him and court system. People pouring in. Bad!”
Though the outcome of Tuesday night’s hearing was widely anticipated, the decision of the Supreme Court is much less certain. The makeup of the court is split evenly, at least until President Trump’s nominee, Judge Gorsuch, can be confirmed.