Skift Take

While the restraining order is temporary, the wording of the judge's findings shows a strong chance that the courts will overturn yet another travel ban.

A judge in Hawaii has placed a temporary restraining order on two core aspects of the latest travel ban.

U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson has blocked the sections of the executive order that limit entry to the U.S. from six predominately Muslim countries and restrict the number of refugees that can enter the U.S.

“Upon evaluation of the parties’ submissions, and following a hearing on March 15, 2017, the Court concludes that, on the record before it, Plaintiffs have met their burden of establishing a strong likelihood of success on the merits of their Establishment Clause claim, that irreparable injury is likely if the requested relief is not issued, and that the balance of the equities and public interest counsel in favor of granting the requested relief,” reads Watson’s ruling.

Early Thursday morning, a judge in Maryland also ruled to temporarily block the part of the ban preventing immigration to the U.S. from those six countries.

The Hawaii lawsuit claimed the ban would harm Hawaii by limiting the diversity of the state and limiting the ability of international travelers to visit the state. Other courts in the U.S. were considering rulings today, including ones in Washington state and Maryland.

Judge Watson also found it likely that ban is intended to target Muslims based on an appearance by President Donald Trump on CNN, statements made by Trump advisor Stephen Miller, and comments made by Rudolph Giuliani. This would uphold the Establishment Cause violation suggested by the lawsuit.

“The Court turns to whether Plaintiffs sufficiently establish a likelihood of success on the merits of their Count I claim that the Executive Order violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment,” states the document. “Because a reasonable, objective observer—enlightened by the specific historical context, contemporaneous public statements, and specific sequence of events leading to its issuance—would conclude that the Executive Order was issued with a purpose to disfavor a particular religion, in spite of its stated, religiously-neutral purpose, the Court finds that Plaintiffs, and Dr. Elshikh in particular, are likely to succeed on the merits of their Establishment Clause claim.”

The next step will involve the suit moving to the circuit court, which will rule on the strengths of the claims made in the lawsuit. The Hawaii decision will be heard by the same court that struck down the first ban in February.

During a rally Wednesday night, President Trump stated that he still supports the first ban decreed by his executive order and the new version is “watered down.”

 “That’s what I wanted to do in the first place,” he said.

President Trump also cited regulations that empower the President to make decisions when national security is at stake as justification for the bans.

Meanwhile, the ninth circuit district court denied an en banc rehearing of the previous ruling that denied a request to stay against the stay that effectively stopped the original version of the travel ban. In other words: the first version of the ban is effectively dead in the water.

You can read the full filing below.

Download (PDF, 249KB)


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Tags: politics, tourism, travel ban, trump

Photo credit: Hawaii Attorney General Douglas Chin speaks at a press conference outside the federal courthouse, Wednesday, March 15, 2017, in Honolulu. Hearings were scheduled Wednesday in Maryland, Washington state and Hawaii on President Donald Trump's travel ban. 222971 / 222971

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