Federal appeals court smacks down President Trump on travel ban 

In a stinging rebuke to President Trump, a federal appeals court on Thursday unanimously upheld a suspension of the commander-in-chief’s travel ban.

The San Francisco-based 9th Circuit Court of Appeals handed down a huge victory for opponents of the executive order — shelving the measure while litigation proceeds.

“We hold that the Government has not shown a likelihood of success on the merits of its appeal, nor has it shown that failure to enter a stay would cause irreparable injury, and we therefore deny its emergency motion for a stay,” the panel wrote in the decision.

The court held “that the Government has not shown a likelihood of success on the merits of its appeal, nor has it shown that failure to enter a stay would cause irreparable injury.”

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“We therefore deny its emergency motion for a stay,” the court wrote.

In the ruling, the panel decided that, “to rule on the Government’s motion, we must consider several factors, including whether the Government has shown that it is likely to succeed on the merits of its appeal, the degree of hardship caused by a stay or its denial, and the public interest in granting or denying a stay.”

“We assess those factors in light of the limited evidence put forward by both parties at this very preliminary stage and are mindful that our analysis of the hardships and public interest in this case involves particularly sensitive and weighty concerns on both sides,” the court added.

Moments after the ruling was handed down, Trump took to Twitter to express his displeasure.

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“SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE,” he tweeted.

The ruling by the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit Court of Appeals marks a defeat for the Trump White House.

(WIN MCNAMEE / GETTY IMAGES / POOL/EPA)

Trump had promised to pursue the case through the Supreme Court if the halt on the ban were upheld.

The California panel of three judges, reviewing a decision by a federal judge in Seattle that blocked parts of the order, noted the states raised serious allegations about religious discrimination and, in plain language, rejected the Trump administration’s argument that his executive orders are “unreviewable.”

“There is no precedent to support this claimed unreviewability, which runs contrary to the fundamental structure of our constitutional democracy,” the judges wrote.

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The judges found merit to the states’ argument that the ban, barring travelers from seven Muslim-majority nations and limiting the nation’s refugee program, violates the Fifth Amendment right to due process, finding that the government will have little “likelihood of success” in rejecting that argument.

“The government has not shown that the executive order provides what due process requires, such as notice and a hearing prior to restricting an individual’s ability to travel,” the panel wrote.

Civil rights groups and opponents of the order, however, quickly took to social media to praise the court after the ruling was released.

“3-0,” Hillary Clinton wrote, in reference to the unanimous decision.

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“Pres Trump ought to see the writing on the wall, abandon proposal, roll up his sleeves & come up w/ a real, bipartisan plan to keep us safe,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) tweeted.

“Victory for justice and the balance of powers. U.S. democracy shines,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) tweeted.

“Win! Muslim ban still on hold!” the ACLU’s main account tweeted.

In a statement, Mayor de Blasio assessed that “the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals just said, ‘No you can’t,’ to the Trump Administration and its un-American travel and refugee bans.”

“Here in New York — the safest big city in America — we will always protect our neighbors, no matter where they came from or when they got here. Those are our values,” de Blasio added.

The hearing before the San Francisco court earlier this week had been the greatest legal challenge yet to the ban — which bars people from seven Muslim-majority countries and all refugees from entering the U.S. — and saw government lawyers face intense questioning from the bench’s panel of judges.

The judges added that the government failed to prove that anyone from the affected countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — were a threat to the country.

“The Government has pointed to no evidence that any alien from any of the countries named in the Order has perpetrated a terrorist attack in the United States.”

The 29-page ruling also said it was unlikely the White House’s counsel had authority to amend a presidential executive order and that the government did not show how the order could be administered in parts.

The panel’s subsequent Thursday night ruling marked the latest stage in a tumultuous series of events that began when Trump hastily signed the order Jan. 27.

The order sparked unrest and protests at airports across the country, and a raft of federal court orders ensued, including from U.S. District Judge James Robart of Seattle — an appointee of former President George W. Bush — who dealt the order a stinging legal blow Friday, saying “there’s no support” for the government’s contention that the ban was necessary to protect the United States.

The Trump administration then appealed Robart’s ruling, saying that the judge overreached by “second-guessing” the President on a matter of national security.

Then, early Sunday morning, the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied the Justice Department’s request to immediately reinstate the ban, prompting the Department of Homeland Security to suspend enforcement of the measure over the weekend and triggering a mad dash as people who had been suddenly barred from the country raced to make it back before further developments.

The current 4-4 split between liberal and conservative justices, however, could mean a split decision that would mean the lower court decision stands.

In recent days, several prominent former lawmakers, including ex-Secretaries of State Madeline Albright and John Kerry, former CIA and National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden, signed a statement calling for the continued suspension of the ban, saying it makes America less safe and “unleash chaos” if it was restored.

“We view the Order as one that ultimately undermines the national security of the United States, rather than making us safer,” they said in a joint brief. 

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