A federal appeals court that President Trump has frequently criticized is to hear arguments Monday on whether to restore his controversial travel ban — a significant step in the legal battle that has prevented Trump from implementing one of his signature initiatives on immigration.
A three-judge panel with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit will join the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in deciding whether Trump ran afoul of the Constitution when he tried to temporarily shut down the U.S. refugee program and suspend the issuance of new visas to residents of six Muslim-majority countries.
The 9th Circuit blocked Trump’s first travel ban, and now a different set of judges on the panel will weigh a revised version.
The 4th Circuit, which is based in Richmond, heard arguments on the matter last week.
The views of each side are familiar by now. Those challenging the ban say it is unconstitutional and motivated by Trump’s desire to discriminate against Muslims, and they point to Trump’s comments and those of his advisers as evidence to prove their case. The Justice Department argues that the executive order is well within the president’s power, and that lower courts have been wrong to second-guess him on a matter of national security.
Last week, a federal judge in Michigan ordered the Trump administration to turn over communications from former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and other advisers — whose comments judges nationwide have pointed to as they have ordered to freeze the ban. That case is separate from the two that have put Trump’s latest ban on hold.
U.S. district judges in Hawaii and Maryland have ordered key sections of the president’s order frozen, and to fully reinstate the measure, the Justice Department would have to win in both the 4th and 9th circuits — or escalate the dispute to the Supreme Court.
The three judges considering the matter in the 9th Circuit — Michael Daly Hawkins, Ronald M. Gould and Richard A. Paez — were appointed by President Bill Clinton. The 4th Circuit heard the case with all its judges, a step the 9th Circuit declined to take.
Trump has not been shy about criticizing judges who rule against him, but he seems to have particular ire for the 9th Circuit. When U.S. District Judge William Orrick blocked his executive order on stripping federal funding from sanctuary cities, Trump incorrectly attributed the decision to the 9th Circuit as he wrote on Twitter, “First the Ninth Circuit rules against the ban & now it hits again on sanctuary cities — both ridiculous rulings. See you in the Supreme Court!” Orrick is a lower-court judge whose rulings would be reviewed by the 9th Circuit.
The arguments are scheduled to begin at 12:30 p.m. Eastern time (9:30 a.m. in Seattle).