The White House sent conflicting signals about how it would address an appeals court ruling that halted President Donald Trumpâ€™s ban on U.S. entry by citizens from seven predominantly Muslim nations, and Trump said he may issue an entirely new immigration order to revise the ban.
A White House aide first said late Friday that the administration would not ask the Supreme Court to overturn the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, which refused to reinstate Trumpâ€™s travel ban after it had been blocked by a lower court judge. Soon after, reporters at the White House overheard Trumpâ€™s press secretary, Sean Spicer, asking who had made that statement. Minutes later, the aide distributed a different statement on paper.
“On background: to clarify, we could take the TRO to Supreme Court,” the statement read, referring to the lower courtâ€™s temporary restraining order against Trumpâ€™s travel ban. “We are reviewing all our options in the court system and confident we will prevail on the merits of the case. Additionally, we are actively pursuing other executive orders that will keep our country safe from terrorism.”
Trump himself, meanwhile, said aboard Air Force One that he has “a lot of other optionsâ€ other than a Supreme Court appeal, â€œincluding just filing a brand new order.” He would not confirm whether that was his plan.
“It could very well be. Iâ€™d like to surprise you,â€ he said. The administrationâ€™s moves came a day after the appeals court upheld a decision by a federal judge in Seattle to temporarily block Trumpâ€™s executive order barring citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the US.
In the immediate aftermath of the 26-page ruling from a three-judge panel, Trump tweeted that the decision was “disgraceful” and vowed to press on with legal efforts to reinstate the travel ban. Trump first alluded to the possibility of a new immigration order at a news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe earlier on Friday, before traveling to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida.
â€œWeâ€™ll be doing something very rapidly having to do with additional security for our country; youâ€™ll be seeing that sometime next week,â€ Trump said at the news conference, without offering any further detail.
Trump said aboard Air Force One that a new order ideally wouldnâ€™t differ much from the original. “Very little,” he said.
“We are going to have very strong security in our country,” he said. “We are going to have people come into our country that want to be here for good reasons.â€
The Trump administration argued that states have no right to sue to block the immigration order and that courts have no authority to review an executive branch decision on immigration policy.
But the panel of three judges from the 9th Circuit in San Francisco rejected those arguments, saying that the â€œfederal judiciary retains the authority to adjudicate constitutional challenges to executive action.â€ Moreover, the panel found, the administration had shown â€œno evidenceâ€ that individuals from those seven nations had committed terrorist acts.
The Trump administration could appeal the decision to the US Supreme Court, but reversing the ruling would require a five-vote majority among the eight current members. If the high court fails to intervene, the case would return to US District Judge James Robart in Seattle.
Also on Friday, a judge on the appeals court in San Francisco asked for full-court reconsideration of the three-judge panelâ€™s refusal to reinstate Trumpâ€™s travel ban.
The chief judge of the court on Friday directed lawyers for the federal government and for Washington state to file arguments over whether a rehearing by an 11-judge panel is appropriate. Typically a rehearing is only granted when a majority of active judges on the court votes for it.
President attacks on judiciary raise safety concerns for judgesÂ
MARTHA BELLISLE / AP
When a judge who helped derail President Donald Trump’s travel ban was hit with online threats, the abuse raised safety concerns among jurists across the country, and experts are worried that the president’s own attacks on the judiciary could make judges a more inviting target.
US District Judge James Robart imposed the temporary restraining order that halted enforcement of Trump’s ban last week. The president soon sent a tweet saying the opinion of “this so-called judge” was “ridiculous and would be overturned.” He also tweeted that the judge was “a known liberal sympathizer” and had “just opened the door to terrorists!”
Robart quickly became a target on social media. Someone on Twitter called him a “DEAD MAN WALKING” and another on Facebook suggested he be imprisoned at the military detention center at Guantanamo Bay.â€