A federal appeals court refused Thursday to reinstate President Donald Trump’s ban on travelers from seven predominantly Muslim nations, dealing another legal setback to the new administration’s immigration policy. In a unanimous decision, the panel of three judges from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declined to block a lower-court ruling that suspended the ban and allowed previously barred travelers to enter the U.S.
The court rejected the administration’s claim that it did not have the authority to review the president’s executive order. “There is no precedent to support this claimed unreviewability, which runs contrary to the fundamental structure of our constitutional democracy,” the court said. The judges noted that the states had raised serious allegations about religious discrimination. President Donald Trump immediately tweeted his reaction to the ruling: “SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!”
President Trump’s Department of Justice has several options to challenge Thursday’s ruling. The ruling came on the same day that Attorney General Jeff Sessions was sworn in, meaning the former senator will have a big decision to make within hours of taking the job. The administration could appeal directly to the Supreme Court. Another option is to allow the appeals court ruling to stand and return to the federal judge in Seattle who initially blocked Trump’s plan a week ago, it may not be the president’s agenda, but the appeals court panel hinted that a scaled-back executive order that did not bar all citizens from the seven countries might have a better shot at clearing legal hurdles.
While all eyes have been fixated on the 9th Circuit, several other lawsuits remain active across the country, including a legal battle in Virginia. Friday, attorneys in Virginia will argue the state attorney general’s motion for a preliminary injunction to prevent enforcement of the travel ban nationwide. As of now, those provisions of the executive order remain temporarily suspended nationwide because of the decision issued and now reaffirmed by the 9th Circuit on Thursday. As a result, foreign travelers from the seven banned Muslim-majority countries have been allowed to enter the US.