Second U.S. Appeals Court Blocks Trump's Revised Travel Ban

  • San Francisco panel says president exceeded his authority
  • Trump has asked Supreme Court to reinstate executive order

Trump Angry About `Watered Down' Travel Ban

A second federal appeals court blocked President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban even as he presses the Supreme Court to reinstate it.

Monday’s order by the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco follows a May 25 ruling by a regional appeals court based in Richmond, Virginia, that concluded Trump intended to discriminate against Muslims from the six countries he targeted in his executive order. The administration on June 1 asked the nation’s highest court to let the ban take effect while the justices decide whether to review the Richmond ruling.

Trump’s order runs afoul of a federal law that prohibits nationality-based discrimination and requires the president to follow a specific process when setting the annual cap on the admission of refugees, according to the ruling by a panel of three judges appointed by former President Bill Clinton.

The appeals court said the president exceeded his authority with the sweeping travel restrictions.

‘Essential Precondition’

“In suspending the entry of more than 180 million nationals from six countries, suspending the entry of all refugees, and reducing the cap on the admission of refugees from 110,000 to
50,000 for the 2017 fiscal year, the president didn’t meet the essential precondition to exercising his delegated authority,” according to Monday’s ruling. “The president must make a sufficient finding that the entry of these classes of people would be ‘detrimental to the interests of the United States.’”

Trump said in his Supreme Court appeal that the policy “is not a so-called ‘Muslim ban,’ and campaign comments cannot change that basic fact.” In the biggest legal showdown of his young presidency, the president is asking the nine justices to make their decision on whether to hear the appeal before leaving for their three-month recess at the end of June.

The administration also asked the court to reinstate the travel ban in the interim. Reinstating the ban would require the votes of five of the nine justices, with Justice Anthony Kennedy as the likely swing vote.

But Trump may have undermined his chances of reviving the executive order on June 5 when he criticized the latest version of his travel ban as "watered down" in a Twitter tirade that also second-guessed his Justice Department’s tactics in taking the case to the Supreme Court.

The ruling is the latest in a series of court rebukes to the president’s efforts to halt U.S. entry from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days while the American government reviews their screening procedures. The order also aimed to prohibit the entry of refugees for 120 days.

A forerunner of the March 6 order incited chaos and condemnation when it was rolled out without warning in January. Federal courts soon blocked its enforcement, prompting a re-do.

Trump and Congress have been distracted from advancing the president’s agenda by subsequent controversies, including the president’s firing of FBI Director James Comey amid the bureau’s investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia.

The case is State of Hawaii v. Trump, 17-15589, U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit (San Francisco).

For more on the travel ban, check out the Decrypted podcast:

— With assistance by Andrew M Harris, and Greg Stohr

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