US president Donald Trump suffered a legal setback on Thursday when a federal court in Hawaii put his revised travel ban — a scaled-back version that targeted non-visa holders from six Muslim-majority countries, as well as halted the US refugee resettlement program — on hold just hours before it was due to take effect.
The ban was a re-worked proposal from the president's original ban, which placed temporary restrictions on seven majority Muslim countries. The major difference was the dropping of Iraq from the list of seven countries, leaving Syria, Iran, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, and Libya affected.
It no longer applied to permanent residents, those with valid green cards, dual nationals not from the six countries, or anyone already granted asylum in the US.
The ruling, made by District Judge Derrick Watson, rejected the Trump administration's claim that the ban was aimed at increasing national security.
The Guardian reported that Watson held that the executive order violated the US Constitution's establishment clause and discriminated against a religious group.
The judge took literally Trump's statement during the election: “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” and offered various statements made in the same vein by Trump and his aides to back up his ruling.
According to Time, Trump described the decision as "unprecedented judicial overreach" and vowed to fight it "all the way to the Supreme Court." Speaking at a campaign rally just hours after the decision, Trump lashed out, suggesting the ruling was a political act.
"You don’t think that this was done by a judge for political reasons, do you," Trump asked, before drawing out a dramatic and sarcastic, "Noooo." Trump added that "the ruling makes us look weak" as his supporters booed the order.
For the Trump administration, this is the second bite at the apple. According to a BBC report, the first travel ban, signed on 27 January, was blocked after a US judge in Seattle issued a nationwide block. Federal judge James Robart ruled against government lawyers' claims that US states did not have the standing to challenge the executive order.
The Trump administration appealed that decision, however the appeals court ruled against them unanimously, stating that the administration had provided no proof that any of the individuals from the seven countries banned had committed any acts of terror in the United States.
Trump, taking to Twitter after that ruling, said:
SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 9, 2017
However the administration quietly dropped any plans to appeal and came up with the revised order, which they hoped would pass legal muster. However, that too, has now run into trouble.
According to a report in The Daily Beast, Trump told the crowd at his rally: "I wasn’t thrilled, but the lawyers all said ‘Oh let’s tailor it. This is a watered-down version of the first one. This is a watered-down version. And let me tell you something, I think we ought to go back to the first one and go all the way, which is what I wanted to do in the first place.”
Which is sure to hamstring the arguments made by his government's lawyers before already skeptical federal judges. Which makes it twice now that the US president has fought the law. And the law won.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Mar 16, 2017 12:48:56 IST