NEW YORK A U.S. appeal court’s refusal to
reinstate a temporary travel ban on refugees and citizens from
seven mainly Muslim countries is a setback for U.S. President
Donald Trump’s sweeping immigration agenda, but the government
is pressing ahead on multiple legal fronts.
The administration will continue to defend the executive
order – both in the Washington case that produced Thursday’s
ruling and possibly at the Supreme Court – and in more than a
dozen additional lawsuits now moving through the U.S. court
system. On Friday, a federal court in Virginia will hold a hearing on
a request for a preliminary injunction on aspects of the ban in
a case brought by the state of Virginia on behalf of lawful
permanent residents detained at Dulles International Airport or
denied entry after the ban went into effect.
Some of the cases were filed on behalf of travelers from the
countries affected by the ban who were detained at U.S. airports
upon arriving in the country.
Others have been filed by states, civil liberties groups and
refugee resettlement agencies with companies and non-profit
organizations joining in with supporting briefs.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a suit on behalf of
all the affected people who were in transit at the time the ban
took effect or who were detained on arrival in the United
States, including two Iraqis with connections to the U.S.
A district judge in Brooklyn issued a nationwide emergency
order, which is still in place, preventing the removal of such
Federal District Judge Nathaniel Gorton in Boston ruled very
differently, upholding the president’s order in a case
originally brought on behalf of two Iranian permanent residents
of the United States who were detained on arriving at the Boston
That decision was in sharp contrast with the ruling by
Seattle-based James Robart, who imposed the emergency halt to
Trump’s order upheld by the appelate court on Thursday.
Trump praised Gorton and blasted Robart on Twitter, saying “Why aren’t the lawyers looking at and using the Federal Court
decision in Boston, which is at conflict with ridiculous lift
CASES FILED ACROSS THE U.S.
The large number of cases in different courthouses around
the country increases the likelihood that the U.S. Supreme Court
will ultimately have to decide the fate of the policy.
There are now cases moving through 11 of the 13 U.S. appeals
court circuits in the nation. And that does not include many
additional habeas petitions filed on behalf of individual people
detained at airports after the ban, the majority of which would
have been dropped after people were released.
“Currently the front-running case is in Washington and all
eyes are on that case, but there a lot of other cases
back-stopping that case and ready to step in if the order were
to be reinstated,” Melissa Keaney, a staff attorney with
National Immigration Law Center.
The ACLU is involved in at least a dozen of the cases but
says that the litigation has been moving too quickly to
“I don’t see anyone stopping to move forward with their own
cases until there is a definitive resolution,” said Lee Gelernt,
an ACLU attorney handling the Brooklyn suit. “That would mean
either the Supreme Court rules on the issue, or the
administration decides to change the executive order or the
government decides not to appeal if there is a nationwide ruling
against it,” Gelernt said.
Given the pace of everything, Jay Holland, an attorney with
Joseph Greenwald & Laake who has litigated cases involving civil
rights issues, said it was “not so surprising that different
lawyers and different judges are cutting their own path.”
He expects the issue to move quickly to the Supreme Court,
which is still short one justice ahead of the confirmation of
Trump’s conservative nominee Neil Gorsuch to the bench.
“Even with eight justices, I think the court will be forced
to take it up because there will be too many conflicting
opinions,” said Holland. “There is far too much legal
uncertainty that is having immediate impact.”
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