SAN FRANCISCO — Three federal judges will hear oral arguments Tuesday night in the challenge to President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration.
The hourlong hearing, conducted by telephone among three West Coast judges at 4 p.m. MST, will determine the immediate fate of the nationwide temporary restraining order against Trump’s travel ban.
Trump has only been in office for 17 days, but his Justice Department is already embroiled in a high-stakes legal battle that could affect hundreds of thousands of people and the direction of his presidency.
Attorneys general for Washington and Minnesota, which challenged the executive order, say that the temporary restraining order should remain in place because the president had “unleashed chaos” by signing the order.
Trump, who rode a wave of populist anger into the White House, now has to wait for the 9th Circuit panel.
The San Francisco-based court has a reputation as one of the most liberal in the nation to the point where some Republican lawmakers have even pushed to split it up in an effort to limit its impact. And no matter what its ruling here, the next stop will likely be the U.S. Supreme Court.
It’s a stunning escalation of an issue that has caused massive confusion in airports across the country, left those with valid visas and refugees seeking asylum in legal limbo and prompted the president himself — in the first major legal challenge of his presidency — to launch an attack on one judge who ruled against him.
Not a constitutional challenge
The issue in front of the court at the moment is not whether or not Trump’s travel ban is constitutional, but whether it will remain suspended for now.
It all centers on his executive order issued Jan. 27 with little explanation or advance warning. The order bars citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries — Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen — from entering the U.S. for 90 days, all refugees for 120 days and indefinitely halts refugees from Syria.