Five key quotes from court's decision on Trump's travel ban

A San Francisco-based appeals court has unanimously rejected the Trump administration's attempt to resume a controversial travel ban that barred people from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals's 3-0 decision ripped apart much of the administration's arguments, sometimes with stunning language.

The opinion also sparked swift pushback from Trump, who declared on Twitter: “SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!”

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The panel hearing the case included Judges William C. Canby Jr., a Jimmy Carter appointee; Richard R. Clifton, a George W. Bush appointee; and Michelle T. Friedland, a Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaThe Hill's Campaign Report: Coronavirus forces Democrats to postpone convention Biden associates reach out to Holder about VP search Poll: More Republican voters think party is more united than Democratic voters MORE appointee.

Here are five key passages from the full-throated rebuke.

Courts assert right to review order

"Rather than present evidence to explain the need for the Executive Order, the Government has taken the position that we must not review its decision at all. We disagree," the judges wrote.

"In short, although courts owe considerable deference to the President's policy determinations with respect to immigration and national security, there is no precedent to support this claimed unreviewability, which runs contrary to the fundamental structure of our constitutional democracy.”

The administration had argued that the courts did not have the right to review an executive order related to national security threats, saying it was under the president's broad authority to act on such issues.

But the panel, in vehemently repudiating that notion, cited a Supreme Court case that ruled U.S. courts could hear cases on the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.

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Judges raise religious discrimination issue

While the judges declined to weigh in on whether they think the policy is a form of religious discrimination, they did acknowledge that there were “significant” questions that needed to be explored further.

"The States’ claims raise serious allegations and present significant constitutional questions," the opinion said.

The plaintiffs in the case, Washington and Minnesota, maintain that the order violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, which prohibits the government from favoring one religion over another.

Clifton, one of the judges on the panel, said he wasn’t entirely convinced of that assertion during a hearing on Tuesday.

But the states argued that they just needed to prove that the order was motivated by a desire to discriminate against Muslims, citing Trump's statement in December 2015 about a "total and complete shutdown on Muslims entering the United States."

Both sides have merits

“Aspects of the public interest favor both sides, as evidenced by the massive attention this case has garnered at even the most preliminary stages,” the decision stated.

Judges pointed to valid arguments on each side of the passionate debate. 

They said there is a “powerful interest” in protecting national security and preserving the president’s authority.

But on the other, the public also has an interest in the free flow of travel, avoiding the separation of families and the freedom from discrimination.

The judges also argued that the states have shown sufficient legal standing to bring the case — at least at this stage — because of the harm inflicted on public universities in the states.

Panel finds no evidence of terrorism risk

“The Government has pointed to no evidence that any alien from any of the countries named in the Order has perpetrated a terrorist attack in the United States,” the ruling stated.

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Trump has said his immigration policy is necessary to prevent terrorists from infiltrating the country, citing the 9/11 terrorist attacks and other criminal acts committed by foreign-born individuals.

But when pressed by the judges to provide hard evidence that the countries targeted in the ban — Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Libya and Yemen — posed a real risk for terrorism, the administration said there was no evidence in the record of federal offenses from visa holders of those nations.

The White House’s attorney maintained that those nations were previously identified by Congress and the Obama administration as “countries of concern.”

The right to ‘life, liberty, or property’

When it comes to an individual's right to “life, liberty, or property,” the Trump administration was unable to convince the court that the ban did not violate due process rights — such as providing notice and a hearing prior to restricting an individual’s ability to travel.

“The Government has not shown that the Executive Order provides what due process requires, such as notice and a hearing prior to restricting an individual’s ability to travel,” the opinion said.

The government had argued that due process rights were not violated because the White House counsel, several days after the ban was implemented, issued guidance stating that the order did not apply to green card holders — and that other individuals were not citizens and therefore had no due process rights.  

The protections provided by the Fifth Amendment are not limited to citizens, the court insisted.

“We cannot say that the current interpretation by White House counsel, even if authoritative and binding, will persist past the immediate stage of these proceedings,” they wrote.

Katie Bo Williams contributed to this report.