A defiant President Donald Trump has pledged to appeal to the US Supreme Court if necessary to fight for his revised travel ban on people from six Muslim majority countries., parts of which were halted by two different federal judges in recent days.
The legal path forward will be challenging, though, as lawsuits work their way through federal courts on opposite sides of the country, in Hawaii and Maryland. On Thursday, a federal judge in Washington state said he was also weighing a temporary restraining order.
In granting a temporary restraining order against the ban challenged in a lawsuit brought by the state of Hawaii, US District Judge Derrick Watson found on Wednesday “a reasonable, objective observer … would conclude that the executive order was issued with a purpose to disfavor a particular religion”.
Trump, speaking after the Hawaii ruling at a rally in Nashville on Wednesday, called his revised executive order a “watered-down version” of his first.
The president said he would take the case “as far as it needs to go,” including to the Supreme Court, in order to get a ruling that the ban is legal.
Trump’s executive order would temporarily ban refugees as well as travelers from six predominantly Muslim countries. The president has said the ban is needed for national security.
Early on Thursday, U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang issued a nationwide preliminary injunction in a case in Maryland brought by refugee resettlement agencies represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Immigration Law Center.
Chuang ruled that the groups were likely to succeed in showing that the travel ban portion of the executive order was intended to be a ban on Muslims, and as a result, violates the U.S. Constitution’s religious freedom guarantee. He did not enjoin the refugee portion of the ban.
“To avoid sowing seeds of division in our nation, upholding this fundamental constitutional principle at the core of our nation’s identity plainly serves a significant public interest,” Chuang wrote in his ruling.
The Trump administration won a small legal victory later on Thursday.
US District Judge James Robart in Seattle, who in February blocked Trump’s first travel ban, ruled the second ban was different enough that he would not simply apply a preliminary injunction he issued against the first ban to the second one.
He said he was weighing a request for a temporary restraining order on the new travel ban.
The likely next stops if the administration decides to contest the two rulings it lost would be the 4th and 9th US circuit courts of appeal.
Trump signed the new ban on March 6 to overcome legal problems with his January executive order, which caused chaos at airports and sparked mass protests before Robart stopped its enforcement in February.