Second travel ban quashed

US govt files appeal in federal court

Judges say new directive still violates Constitution, but Trump vows to fight 'this terrible ruling'

NEW YORK • The Trump administration has filed court papers hoping to salvage its second version of a travel ban after two judges in separate cases last week found that it probably violated the Constitution.

The Justice Department filed papers in federal court in Maryland last Friday, setting up a new legal showdown in the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, located in Richmond, Virginia.

Last week, federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland issued orders against the travel ban, finding that it violated the First Amendment by disfavouring a particular religion.

In Washington state, US District Court Judge James Robart put a stay on proceedings for as long as the Hawaii court's nationwide temporary restraining order remained in place, to "conserve resources" and avoid inconsistent and duplicate rulings.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer told a media briefing the government would "vigorously defend this executive order" and appeal against the "flawed rulings".

NOT BACKING DOWN

We're going to take our case as far as it needs to go, including all the way up to the Supreme Court.

MR TRUMP

The Department of Justice filed a motion last Friday night seeking clarification of Hawaii's ruling before appealing to the Ninth Circuit US Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

If the Justice Department had appealed the Hawaii order, the case would have gone to the same San Francisco-based appeals court that rejected an earlier version of the travel ban.

The Fourth Circuit is known as a more conservative court compared with the Ninth Circuit, said Mr Buzz Frahn, a lawyer at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett who has been tracking the litigation nationwide.

"The government is probably thinking that the Fourth Circuit... would lend a friendlier ear to its arguments," he said.

But University of Richmond law professor Kevin Walsh cautioned that if the administration were to win its case in Richmond, that could, at least in theory, set up a confusing situation in which the travel ban was enforced in one part of the country but not another.

Detractors argue the ban discriminated against Muslims, in violation of the US Constitution's guarantee of religious freedom. Mr Trump says the measure is necessary for national security to protect the country from terrorist attacks.

Mr Trump, speaking at a rally in Nashville, Tennessee, shortly after the judge's decision, insisted he would not back down.

"We're going to fight this terrible ruling," he said, to applause from the crowd. "We're going to take our case as far as it needs to go, including all the way up to the Supreme Court."

The second version of the travel ban "is a watered-down version of the first one", the President said.

"And let me tell you something. I think we ought to go back to the first one and go all the way, which is what I wanted to do in the first place."

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 19, 2017, with the headline 'US govt files appeal in federal court'. Print Edition | Subscribe