President Trump's Executive Order is Dealt Another Blow

February 7th 2017

Kyle Jaeger

A federal appeals court unanimously upheld a temporary restraining order against President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration Tuesday. The court's decision temporarily prevents law enforcement agencies from enforcing travel restrictions on immigrants and refugees from seven predominantly Muslim countries.


A panel of three judges at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals determined that a federal judge's temporary block of Trump's executive order last week should be maintained.

The case did not consider the merits of the executive order; rather, the panel agreed that legal concerns raised about the executive order necessitated a temporary stay.

Though the court noted that "both parties" had provided "limited evidence" in support of their respective cases, it concluded that the federal government “has not shown a likelihood of success" in a separate lawsuit, and was unable to sufficiently prove that the judge's ruling will cause "irreparable injury."

The temporary ban on Trump's executive order was only one action filed by Washington's attorney general last week. The second — a lawsuit that considers the legal merits of the order — will be heard at a later date. In the meantime, the panel decided to keep the temporary ban in place, leaving travel restrictions lifted.

The Justice Department contended that the president has authority to execute the executive order under a 1952 provision that stipulates the president "may, by proclamation and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or non-immigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate."


However, during a conference call on Tuesday, Washington Solicitor General Noah Purcell cited past statements by Trump and his advisors, who called for a full ban on Muslim immigration to the United States. Purcell argued that though it does not state it explicitly, Trump's travel ban still amounts to religious discrimination. "We don't need to prove that it harms only Muslims or every Muslim — only that it was motivated by a desire to harm Muslims."

What you need to know about the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals' decision.

  • Last week, a federal judge in Washington granted a motion that temporarily prohibited the implementation of Trump's executive order, citing potential constitutional violations against religious and ethnic discrimination as well as due process for legal permanent residents affected by the travel ban.
  • An accompanying lawsuit brought about by attorneys general in Washington and Minnesota — which addresses the merits of the order — will be reviewed at a date yet to be determined.
  • The Justice Department appealed the temporary ban to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which issued its ruling on Thursday. It found that the temporary ban should be maintained in the interim before the lawsuit is heard before the district court in Washington.

Legal analysts expect that the Trump administration will appeal the ruling with the U.S. Supreme Court.