On 9 February 2017, a federal appeals court rejected a request by President Donald Trump’s administration to reinstate a travel restriction directed at seven predominantly-Muslim countries.
The three-judge panel from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that the government had “pointed to no evidence” that any of the countries affected by Trump’s 28 January 2017 executive order — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — had perpetrated a terrorist attack against the United States.
The 90-day ban was suspended by U.S. District Judge James Robart on 3 February 2017, after two states (Washington and Minnesota) challenged it in court. Attorneys for both states, the appeals court ruled, had provided “evidence of numerous statements” by Trump supporting the argument that he intended to implement a “Muslim ban.”
The Justice Department argued that the government had the “unreviewable authority to suspend the admission of any class of aliens,” saying in essence that they did not need to explain why the travel ban was necessary. But the 9th Circuit court responded:
There is no precedent to support this claimed unreviewability, which runs contrary to the fundamental structure of our constitutional democracy.
Trump reacted to the ruling on Twitter:
The head of the ABA Journal, the American Bar Association’s official publication, said:
Let us be clear. The independence of the judiciary is not up for negotiation.
It is unclear whether the case will be taken before the U.S. Supreme Court. The Washington Post reported, citing an anonymous White House official, that the Trump administration would not appeal the 9th Circuit’s decision, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus was quoted as saying that the administration is “reviewing all of our options in the court system.”