Bush-appointed judge halts Trump travel ban nationwide

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A federal judge in Seattle issued a temporary nationwide restraining order Friday stopping President Trump’s executive order banning citizens of seven countries from entering the United States.

Judge James Robart, who was appointed by former President George Bush in 2003, ruled the executive order would be stopped nationwide, effective immediately.

“The Constitution prevailed today,” Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said in a statement after the ruling. “No one is above the law — not even the President.”

“It’s our president’s duty to honor this ruling and I’ll make sure he does,” Ferguson added.

The ruling, made at the request of Washington and Minnesota, is the broadest to date against Trump’s executive order.

Ferguson, a Democrat, filed the lawsuit three days after Trump signed the executive order. The suit argued that the travel ban targets Muslims and violates constitutional rights of immigrants and their families.

The White House pledged action “at the earliest possible time” in a late Friday statement.

“At the earliest possible time, the Department of Justice intends to file an emergency stay of this order and defend the executive order of the President, which we believe is lawful and appropriate,” the late Friday statement read. 

The White House initially labeled the judge’s action an “outrageous order” but within 10 minutes had sent a second, nearly identical statement that stripped out that adjective.

“The president’s order is intended to protect the homeland and he has the constitutional authority and responsibility to protect the American people,” it continued. 

The State Department said it was working with the Department of Homeland Security to determine how the ruling affects operations, according to CNN.

In an interview with CNN Friday evening, Ferguson said he “expected win, lose or draw” that the case would move “fairly quickly through, up to the Ninth Circuit” Court of Appeals — “just because of the magnitude of the executive order.”

“I’m prepared for this case to go all the way to the Supreme Court whichever way the Ninth Circuit Court of appeals goes,” he said, anticipating a challenge to Robart’s ruling. “It’s a case of that magnitude, it’s a case that frankly I think will ultimately end up before the U.S. Supreme Court, so that would not surprise me one way or the other.”

Lawyers for the government had argued the states lacked standing to sue, according to the Seattle Times, and that the order was within Trump’s executive powers.

But the judge rejected that argument, saying the states had already suffered harm from the travel ban. He also said the lawsuit challenging the legality of the order has a good chance of succeeding.

“It’s a wonderful day for the rule of law in this country,” said Washington state solicitor general Noah Purcell, according to Reuters.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who grew emotional discussing the travel ban last weekend, praised the ruling in a Friday night statement.  

This ruling is a victory for the Constitution and for all of us who believe this un-American executive order will not make us safer. President Trump should heed this ruling and he ought to back off and repeal the executive order once and for all.

Trump’s action bans people from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Sudan and Somalia from entering the U.S. for 90 days, and temporarily halts the United States’ refugee resettlement program for 120 days, while indefinitely suspending resettlement for refugees from Syria.

The order, issued last Friday, immediately stirred controversy when travelers who were en route to the U.S. when it was signed were detained at airports. Protesters demonstrated at airports across the county last weekend.

CNN reported that Customs and Border Protection held a 9 p.m. call with airlines and said it’s “back to business as usual” in the wake of the judge’s action.

Reporter Jon Ostrower added that the systems that flagged and blocked travelers from the seven countries named in the ban were being lifted and rescinded visas were being reissued.



Trump has argued that the move is necessary to preserve national security.

Critics say the order amounts to a de facto ban on Muslims entering the country.

More than 50 lawsuits have been filed against the order so far, with federal judges issuing temporary injunctions in several states to stop the deportations of people impacted by it.

But Robart is the first judge to issue a nationwide injunction, raising the stakes and potentially putting the case on a fast track to the Supreme Court.

The number of people who have been affected by Trump’s order remains a point of contention.

During a court hearing in Virginia Friday, a lawyer with the Justice Department said more than 100,000 visas had been revoked under Trump’s order, despite the temporary nature of the ban.

The State Department disputed that number, saying less than 60,000 people have had their visas rescinded.

The higher figure was mentioned during a hearing in a lawsuit filed on behalf of two Yemenis who arrived at Dulles International Airport but were sent back to Ethiopia.

The administration has sought to clarify that permanent legal residents of the United States are not subject to the ban, which was a point of confusion in the days after the order was signed.

This story was updated at 10:31 p.m.

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