The Department of Justice will argue before a panel of three federal judges in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that President Donald Trump's executive order prohibiting U.S. admittance of refugees and placing a temporary travel ban on citizens from several Muslim-majority countries is constitutional. The decision of the 9th Circuit could ultimately decide the fate of the controversial immigration order.
On Feb. 7, the 9th Circuit will hear oral arguments via telephone about the legality of Trump's executive order, which was temporarily blocked nationwide on Feb. 3 by U.S. District Judge James Robart of Washington state. The DOJ will argue in defense of the executive order while the attorneys general of Minnesota and Washington will argue against.
Signed on Jan. 27, the executive order placed a temporary halt on the U.S. admittance of any refugees, with an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees. It also blocked citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. while asserting that Christian refugees would be prioritized in the future. The order prompted legal challenges with 14 states while 16 attorneys general deemed the order unconstitutional.
On Feb. 6, the DOJ filed a brief laying out its defense of the executive order's legality. The 15-page document asserts that the executive order is a "lawful exercise of the president's authority."
The document indicates that the DOJ will argue before the 9th Circuit Court that the president should have discretion to make national security decisions, that the executive order was not a discriminatory Muslim ban, and that citizens from foreign countries are not entitled to U.S. laws of due process, according to the BBC.
The DOJ brief also argues that Judge Robart's "sweeping nationwide injunction is vastly overbroad."
On Feb. 4, Trump took to social media to blast Robart for his court decision and pledged to have it overturned.
"The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!" Trump tweeted out.
The panel that will decide the immediate fate of the executive order includes federal Judges William C. Canby, Michelle T. Friedland and Richard R. Clifton, Q13 Fox reports.
Canby was appointed by former President Jimmy Carter, Friedland was appointed by former President Barack Obama, and Clifton was appointed by former President George W. Bush.
Whatever ruling the panel issues, the case is expected to head to the Supreme Court, which is currently comprised of eight judges who have evenly split on recent immigration rulings. If a tie were to occur, whatever decision the 9th Circuit offers will serve as the final say on whether the executive order is upheld.