The government is asking a federal judge to clarify his order blocking President Donald Trump's revised travel ban, arguing it shouldn't apply to a global freeze on refugees entering the United States.
Judge Richard Clifton of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals became the latest in a series of judges to draw criticism from Trump after Clifton and two colleagues refused to reinstate an executive order temporarily barring entry by people from seven Muslim-majority countries.
"The Constitution has once again put the brakes on President Trump s disgraceful and discriminatory ban", said Omar Jadwat, director of the immigrant rights project at the American Civil Liberties Union.
In seeking clarification, the Justice Department argued that the lawsuit "failed to meaningfully challenge" another section of Trump's order that bars refugees from traveling to the United States for 120 days and caps the number that will be allowed into the us this fiscal year at 50,000 - a drop of almost half.
Reacting to the development, the White House said the Trump administration would "vigorously defend" the travel ban and would battle its suspension in the federal courts.
Judge Theodore Chuang issued the order early Thursday, saying the ACLU and other groups were likely to prevail on their arguments that the ban was unconstitutional because it discriminates on the basis of religion. "We're going to keep our citizens safe", the president said. The Maryland ruling took the form of a preliminary injunction, which will remain in effect indefinitely as the case is litigated.
A second federal judge in Maryland issued a separate, more narrow nationwide block on just the core provision concerning travel from the Muslim world, ruling it would cause "irreparable harm" were it to go into effect. The Trump administration argued that the ban was meant to protect the United States from terrorism.
Speaking Wednesday evening at a rally in Nashville, Tennessee, Trump called the ruling in Hawaii an example of "unprecedented judicial overreach" and said his administration would appeal it to the U.S. Supreme Court.
That new executive order was also swiftly challenged in court.
In the Maryland case, U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang wrote that the origins of the travel ban suggests that religious screening, not national security, was the primary objective. Lee Gelernt says the revised ban is "a Muslim ban". Trump says the measure is necessary for national security to protect the country from "terrorist attacks".
But District Judge Derrick Watson rejected the idea that the order was not a Muslim ban, ruling it was plausible "to conclude that targeting these countries likewise targets Islam", given their Muslim populations all topped 90 percent.
The hearings in Maryland and Hawaii were two of three held Wednesday in federal courts around the country.
Trump s revised ban signed on March 6 had a reduced scope, exempting Iraqis, permanent United States residents and valid visa holders - an effort by the administration to ensure the order passed legal muster. "The remarkable facts at issue here require no such impermissible injury".
A federal judge in Greenbelt, Maryland, has blocked President Donald Trump's revised travel ban targeting six predominantly Muslim countries.
During Thursday's daily briefing with White House reporters, Spicer called the rulings "flawed" and confirmed that the White House plans to appeal.
The 4th Circuit is known as a more conservative court compared to the 9th Circuit, said Buzz Frahn, an attorney at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett who has been tracking the litigation nationwide.
"They will take it because of its national importance", Spakovsky said.
The Hawaii ruling also halted a 120-day suspension of the USA refugee admissions program.