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Trump administration asks for more time to file travel ban briefs

14 Juin 2017

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals denied a White House request to overturn an injunction blocking President Donald Trump's executive order banning travel from six Muslim-majority countries.

The 4th Circuit, however, said the order discriminates against Muslims in violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, which prohibits the government from establishing any religious orthodoxy, or favoring or disfavoring one religion over another.

The ruling Monday from a unanimous three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals deals the administration another legal defeat as the Supreme Court considers a separate case on the issue. The Ninth Circuit, in a ruling on Monday, also upheld a different lower court's order putting the ban on hold, but on the grounds that Trump had exceeded his powers under the Immigration and Nationality Act.

However, Trump seemed to disagree with some of his underlings in a series of tweets early in the morning of June 5, wherein he urged the Justice Department to "seek an expedited hearing of the watered down Travel Ban before the Supreme Court" while working on a "much tougher version in the meantime". The Hawaii judge also blocked a 120-day ban on refugees entering the United States.

"The longer it goes on, in a way the worse it is for the Trump administration because they claimed they needed this right away for national security", she said.

The ruling by the 9th Circuit was both logistically and symbolically important - keeping in place the broadest blockade on Trump's order and creating new legal and practical paths for the directive to die. He blamed the Justice Department for not sticking with the "original travel ban". On Monday, the United States Court Of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit treated them as such in rendering its opinion in Hawaii v. Trump.

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Hawaii's lawyers said Trump had provided evidence that his administration already was doing the work that it said required a halt in travel to accomplish.

On their part, the three judges sitting on the motions panel of the appellate court said "the President's authority is subject to certain statutory and constitutional restraints". In March, a federal court in Maryland blocked key parts of Trump's immigration ban.

Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin, who sued to stop the travel ban, said the 9th Circuit ruling "really shows that we have three branches of government and that there are checks and balances". The Trump administration had appealed to lift the block on the ban imposed by a Hawaiian federal judge.

Critics of the ban have asserted that the president's order was motivated by anti-Muslim sentiment, in violation of the Constitution's separation of church and state.

At the Supreme Court, anything is possible if you have five votes - a majority of the court.

As to the first, the court instructed the administration: "Whatever deference we accord to the President's immigration and national security policy judgments does not preclude us from reviewing the policy at all".