In a stunning rebuke, a federal judge in Seattle has ordered a national halt to enforcement of President Trump’s controversial travel ban on citizens from seven predominantly Muslim nations.
U.S. District Judge James Robart ruled Friday afternoon in favor of Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who sued this week to invalidate key provisions of Trump’s executive order.
Robart granted Ferguson’s request for a temporary restraining order “on a nationwide basis,” prohibiting federal employees from enforcing Trump’s order. The judge rejected arguments from Justice Department attorneys who said the travel ban fell well within the president’s national-security powers.
“The Constitution prevailed today,” Ferguson said in a rainy news conference on the federal courthouse steps following the ruling. “No one is above the law — not even the president.”
The White House vowed to appeal the decision immediately.
“At the earliest possible time, the Department of Justice intends to file an emergency stay of this outrageous order and defend the executive order of the President, which we believe is lawful and appropriate,” press secretary Sean Spicer said in a written statement Friday night. “The president’s order is intended to protect the homeland and he has the constitutional authority and responsibility to protect the American people.”
Several minutes later, the White House sent a revised statement removing the word “outrageous.”
Gov. Jay Inslee, writing on Twitter, called Robart’s ruling “a tremendous victory” for the state of Washington. “We should feel heartened by today’s victory and more resolute than ever that we are fighting on the right side of history,” Inslee said.
Trump’s executive order, signed Jan. 27, indefinitely blocks entry to the United States for Syrian refugees and temporarily suspends entry to other refugees and citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries.
Since the order, the State Department said it had canceled up to 60,000 visas of people from those nations.
In his ruling, Robart said Washington had met the high burden to justify a restraining order by showing that Trump’s order was causing “immediate and irreparable injury,” and that the state had a substantial likelihood of winning its underlying lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the travel ban.
“The executive order adversely affects the state’s residents in areas of employment, education, business, family relations and freedom to travel,” Robart wrote, adding that the order also harmed the state’s public universities and tax base. “These harms are significant and ongoing.”