Trump Officials Move To Appeal Ruling Blocking Immigration Order

February 05, 2017

The Trump administration moved Saturday night to appeal a Federal District Court ruling that blocked the president’s immigration order, setting the stage for a legal showdown over his authority to tighten the nation’s borders in the name of protecting Americans from terrorism.

The brief notice of appeal came after a chaotic day in which the government complied with the district court’s ruling by allowing the entry of refugees and travelers from seven predominantly Muslim nations, even as Mr. Trump unleashed a fusillade of criticism at the ruling, and the judge who had issued it.

At airports around the world, small numbers of travelers from the previously banned countries began venturing trips to the United States, knowing the judge’s ruling could be overturned at any time. The State Department reversed its cancellation of visas for people from the seven affected countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — and aid groups scrambled to take advantage of what they acknowledged might be a brief window for refugees to enter the United States.

On Saturday night, as Mr. Trump arrived at a Red Cross gala at Mar-a-Lago, his waterfront Florida resort, where he was spending the first getaway weekend of his presidency, reporters asked him if he was confident he would prevail in the government’s appeal. “We’ll win,” he replied. “For the safety of the country, we’ll win.”

The legal maneuvering led Mr. Trump to lash out at Judge James Robart of the Federal District Court in Seattle throughout the day, prompting criticism that the president had failed to respect the judicial branch and its power to check on his authority.

In an early-morning Twitter post, Mr. Trump wrote, “The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!”

Late Saturday, the Justice Department filed papers saying that it would seek to have the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit block the judge’s decision. Judge Robart, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, declared in his ruling on Friday that “there’s no support” for the administration’s argument that “we have to protect the U.S. from individuals” from the affected countries.

Judge Robart’s ruling also barred the administration from enforcing its limits on accepting refugees. The State Department said on Saturday that refugees, including Syrians, could begin arriving as early as Monday. Syrians had faced an indefinite ban under the executive order. His ruling applied nationwide.

It is not clear how quickly the Ninth Circuit court will act. In a note posted Saturday night on its electronic filing system, the court said it would soon issue an order setting a briefing schedule. In ordinary cases, the first brief would not be filed for almost a month, but the federal government will no doubt ask the appeals court to move much faster. In emergency matters, the appeals court’s rules sometimes allow a single judge to act alone, or to convene a three-judge panel by telephone.


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