US appeals court will not reinstate travel ban

By Christie Zizo, Digital Media Producer
Last Updated: Thursday, February 09, 2017, 11:37 PM EST
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The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has refused to reinstate President Trump's executive order regarding travelers to and from seven Muslim-majority countries.

A panel of three judges unanimously decided not to block a lower-court ruling that suspended the travel ban.

The ban temporarily suspended the nation's refugee program, along with immigration and travel from countries that Trump administration deems a security risk.

Justice Dept. lawyers argued that the president had the constitutional power to restrict entry to the United States and the courts and the states cannot second-guess his decision.

However, several states have sued to stop the travel ban, saying it harmed individuals, businesses and universities and specifically targeted Muslims.

During arguments Tuesday, judges hammered away at the administration's claim that the ban was motivated by terrorism fears, but they also forcefully questioned states' attorneys' claims that it specifically targeted Muslims. 

In the end the court ruled the state had a legal standing to sue, and it had the constitutional right to block the ban if necessary.

"Within our system, it is the role of the judiciary to interpret the law, a duty that will sometimes require the “[r]esolution of litigation challenging the constitutional authority of one of the three branches,” the judges wrote in their ruling.

With regard to whether the executive branch has the right to make decision's without the court's interference in matters of national security, the court also disagreed.

"Although our jurisprudence has long counseled deference to the political branches on matters of immigration and national security, neither the Supreme Court nor our court has ever held that courts lack the authority to review executive action in those arenas for compliance with the Constitution," the ruling states.

"To the contrary, the Supreme Court has repeatedly and explicitly rejected the notion that the political branches have unreviewable authority over immigration or are not subject to the Constitution when policymaking in that context."

And further down in the ruling:

"The Supreme Court has made clear that the Government’s 'authority and expertise in [such] matters do not automatically trump the Court’s own obligation to secure the protection that the Constitution grants to individuals,' even in times of war."

The Trump administration will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. A tie in the 8-justice panel would uphold the suspension of the executive order. There's little chance Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, will be confirmed in time to take part in the case.

Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington State, which challenged the president's order, responded with a statement saying, "Mr. President, we just saw you in court, and we beat you."

The American Civil Liberties Union issued this statement regarding the ruling:

The government's erratic and chaotic attempts to enforce this unconstitutional ban have taken a tremendous toll on innocent individuals, our country's values, and our standing in the world."

The ban is set to expire in 90 days. That means it could expire before the Supreme Court takes up the issue. 

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.