DOJ will appeal Hawaiian judge's ruling halting Trump's revised travel ban

CNN reports the Department of Justice has filed notice it intends to appeal a ruling by a judge in Hawaii which put a lasting halt to President Trump’s revised executive order on immigration from six countries.

Two weeks ago, US District Court Judge Derrick Watson blocked the executive order on the grounds that it likely violates the Establishment Clause of the Constitution by disfavoring Muslims.

But Watson’s initial decision was only a limited freeze of the executive order through a temporary restraining order.

As a result, the plaintiffs asked the judge to convert that decision into a longer-term preliminary injunction and Watson agreed Wednesday night, meaning that the President’s 90-day ban on foreign nationals from six Muslim-majority countries and the 120-day ban on all refugees entering the country are now blocked indefinitely, unless any higher court changes Watson’s order or the state’s lawsuit is otherwise resolved.

Judge Watson’s decision to extend the block on the travel ban was reported yesterday by KHON2 in Honolulu. Hawaii’s Attorney General seemed to anticipate a government appeal and said the state would continue to fight in court:

Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin said by phone Thursday morning that he will not back down if the Justice Department plans to appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

“If there was a new order, or if there’s a new appeal, we will be looking at it and thinking about what this means for the people of the State of Hawaii and how it affects our values and also whether or not it violates the Constitution,” he said…

Following the decision, Chin said in a statement, “This is an important affirmation of the values of religious freedom enshrined in our Constitution’s First Amendment. With a preliminary injunction in place, people in Hawaii with family in the six affected Muslim-majority countries – as well as Hawaii students, travelers, and refugees across the world – face less uncertainty. While we understand that the President may appeal, we believe the court’s well-reasoned decision will be affirmed.”

The halt on the travel ban will remain in place until the underlying case is resolved or until a higher court reverses the judge’s injunction. Hawaii has argued the current version of the travel ban (and the previous one) constitutes religious discrimination against Muslims, citing Trump’s campaign statements about a “Muslim ban” as evidence.

A judge in Maryland issued a similar injunction. However, last week a judge in Virginia ruled the opposite way, i.e. that the revised travel ban did not represent religious discrimination. On Monday, 13 states joined a brief in support of the revised travel ban.