The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] heard oral arguments on Tuesday regarding the constitutionality of President Donald Trump’s executive order [materials] on immigration. The government [official website] argued that the executive order was well within the president’s power as delegated by Congress and therefore was constitutional. The government also provided previous risk assessments done before the Trump presidency indicating the need to avoid various risks. Furthermore, the government attempted to establish that the president is charged with making decisions about the rights of national security and the congressional delegation of authority to the president about excluding classes of foreigners is an exercise of sovereignty shared by Congress and the president and therefore the courts do not have standing. The Solicitor General for the state of Washington [official website] argued against the order, stating that it has caused irreparable harm to the state of Washington. He cited instances of residents stranded overseas, families separated, and economic loss. The state of Washington also argued that they have standing to bring this matter before they court as it is their duty to be the legal protector of people who are unable to protect themselves. Finally, the state of Washington argued that the order amounted to religious discrimination as it targeted countries which are mostly made up of Muslims. The losing side of the appeal is expected to appeal the decision up to the US Supreme Court.
Trump signed the executive order [JURIST op-ed] in late January. Only a day later, a judge for the Eastern District of New York issued an emergency stay [JURIST report], temporarily preventing execution of the law, until the question of whether it applied to valid visa holders could be resolved. That issue was resolved by a district judge in Michigan, who ordered [JURIST report] that the travel ban could not be applied to legal citizens, including those holding visas. On Friday the US District Court for the Western District of Washington issued a stay [JURIST report] of Trump’s order. Following appeal, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied [JURIST report] the Trump Administration’s emergency motion [text, PDF] to reinstate the immigration restrictions, thereby suspending the order until arguments have been heard. Thus far Hawaii has moved to intervene in the matter and 15 other states, including the District of Columbia, have filed amicus briefs supporting Washington and Minnesota.