President Trump, in a Saturday morning tweetstorm, personally challenged the credentials of the “so-called” federal judge in Seattle who issued a nationwide temporary restraining order blocking the travel ban Trump put in place last week.
U.S. District Senior Judge James Robart, appointed to his post in 2004 by George W. Bush, issued an order Friday night that immediately lifted the ban that sought to block people from seven majority-Muslim countries, or any refugees, from entering the country.
On Saturday, the State Department restored tens of thousands of canceled visas of foreigners. The department had said up to 60,000 foreigners from seven majority-Muslim countries had their visas “provisionally revoked” to comply with Trump’s order.
“Those individuals with visas that were not physically cancelled may now travel if the visa is otherwise valid,” the State Department said.
Likewise, the Department of Homeland Security said it had “suspended any and all actions” regarding the affected sections of the executive order. “DHS personnel will resume inspection of travelers in accordance with standard policy and procedure.”
In a series of tweets from his winter retreat in Mar-a-Lago, Trump took on the judge’s decision: “The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!”
In issuing his decision, Robart sided with Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who filed a suit to block key provisions of the president’s executive order.
Trump, however, took issue with the ruling, tweeting: “When a country is no longer able to say who can, and who cannot, come in & out, especially for reasons of safety &.security – big trouble!”
The president also noted, “Interesting that certain Middle-Eastern countries agree with the ban. They know if certain people are allowed in it’s death & destruction!”
Trump’s disparagement of Robart recalls his questioning last year whether U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel could be impartial in a lawsuit against Trump University because of his Mexican heritage. Trump called the Indiana-born Curiel a “very hostile judge” who, he said, had “an inherent conflict of interest.”
Even before the president’s comments, the White House said the federal government would challenge the judge’s decision.
Justice Department attorneys defending the executive order highlight the president’s broad legal authority to restrict entry of immigrants when deemed in the national interest of the United States, citing congressional authority in the Immigration and Nationality Act.
In this case, the federal attorneys argue the purpose of the executive order is “intended to protect the American people from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals.”
Trump’s executive order, signed Jan. 27, suspended the entry of all refugees to the U.S. for 120 days, halted admission of refugees from Syria indefinitely and barrd entry for three months to residents from the predominantly Muslim countries of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.
The ACLU and other advocacy groups had been working to extend a temporary stay on the order issued last week after it sparked chaos and protests at airports across the country.
In Washington state, Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, hailed Ferguson and applauded the decision.
“We should feel heartened by today’s victory and more resolute than ever that we are fighting on the right side of history,” the governor said in a statement. “Thank you to (Attorney General Bob Ferguson) and his team for making the case that no person – not even the president – is above the law.”
Amnesty International also applauded the development.
“This decision is a short-term relief for thousands of people whose lives have been upended, but Congress must step in and block this unlawful ban for good,” organization spokesman Eric Ferrero said in a statement. “Trump’s Muslim ban is inhumane, unlawful, and discriminatory, which is why the courts and the public want it to be stopped.”
Ferguson said his team had been working around-the-clock for the last week on reversing the executive order.
“It’s obviously an historic decision and an important one for the rule of law and for the people of the state of Washington and the people of our country,” Ferguson said. “I have said from the beginning: it is not the loudest voice that prevails in the courtroom, it is the Constitution, and that’s what we heard from Judge Robart today.”
A lawyer with the national office of the American Civil Liberties Union said the decision was significant.
“The decision in Washington reaffirms that the courts will stand up to the president,” said Lee Gelernt, the lawyer who successfully argued for the stay against Trump’s ban in federal court in Brooklyn, N.Y., last week.
“The courts have and will continue to recognize that this executive order favors Christians and disfavors Muslims and that is antithetical to American values and flatly inconsistent with the United States Constitution.”
Word of the decision came shortly after revelations about an earlier decision by U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton out of Boston, who refused to extend a temporary order that allowed some people affected by Trump’s ban to enter the country. Gorton ruled that the ACLU failed to demonstrate a need for an ongoing restraining order, the Boston Globe reported.
SOURCE: Doug Stanglin and Melanie Eversley
USA TODAY / KHOU