In a speech in Nashville, Tenn., on Wednesday, President Trump complained against a nationwide temporary restraining order that has put a halt to the revised version of his travel ban. Trump described the result by a federal judge in Honolulu a few hours earlier as a “flawed ruling” and as “unprecedented judicial overreach” that he suggested was politically motivated. He also declared that he is willing to take the legal battle all the way to the Supreme Court and predicted that he will ultimately emerge victorious.
“We’re going to fight this terrible ruling. We’re going to take our case as far as it needs to go, including all the way up to the Supreme Court,” he said. “We’re going to win. We’re going to keep our citizens safe, and regardless, we’re going to keep our citizens safe. Believe me.”
Trump began discussing the ruling by announcing that he had to deliver some “bad news” and assuring his audience that he would “turn it into good.” He noted that the decision by Hawaii District Judge Derrick Watson came from “part of the much overturned Ninth Circuit court.” Trump also pointed out that the ban in question was a “watered-down” version of his initial executive order of Jan. 27, which was also blocked by a federal judge.
“A judge has just blocked our executive order on travel and refugees coming into our country from certain countries. The order he blocked was a watered-down version of the first order that was also blocked by another judge — and should have never been blocked to start with,” Trump said.
The new version of the travel ban was issued on March 6. It was designed to meet the complaints of the first executive order, which blocked travelers from seven predominantly Muslim nations — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — from entering the United States. It also barred all refugees from entering the country for 120 days and indefinitely halted the entry of all Syrian refugees.
Trump and government attorneys have argued that the orders are necessary security measures, focusing on countries that they consider pose elevated risks of terrorism to the United States. The January order sparked widespread protests and legal challenges, including one from the states of Washington and Minnesota that resulted in a temporary restraining order by a federal judge in Seattle. After that ruling was upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Trump administration dropped the case and drew up a more limited order.
Among other changes, Trump’s revised ban removed Iraq from the list of countries singled out and exempted permanent residents and current visa holders from the restrictions. Speaking in Nashville, Trump described the second version of the executive order as “tailored to the dictates” of the Ninth Circuit.
Trump also said that he wished he had never revised the order.
“Remember this, I wasn’t thrilled, but the lawyers all said, ‘Oh, let’s tailor it.’ This is a watered-down version of the first one,” Trump explained. “This is a watered-down version, and let me tell you something, I think we ought to go back to the first one and go all the way, which is what I wanted to do in the first place.”
FIRST EXECUTIVE ORDER WAS SUSPENDED
When the first executive order was suspended, attorneys arguing against it suggested the ban violated the Constitution’s ban on religious discrimination and pointed to statements Trump made during his campaign last year calling for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims” entering the United States. In the lawsuit against the revised ban, Hawaii’s attorney general similarly pointed to previous statements by Trump and his aides. Government lawyers have argued that those comments should have no bearing on the legality of the ban.
In his decision Wednesday, Judge Watson cited Trump’s call for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims,” and statements made by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a top Trump ally, who claimed that the president had approached him to find a legal way to implement a “Muslim ban.”
“These plainly worded statements, made in the months leading up to and contemporaneous with the signing of the Executive Order, and, in many cases, made by the Executive himself, betray the Executive Order’s stated secular purpose. Any reasonable, objective observer would conclude … that the stated secular purpose of the Executive Order is, at the very least, ‘secondary to a religious objective’ of temporarily suspending the entry of Muslims,” Watson wrote in his ruling.
Trump argued that the law is so simple it would be “easy” to understand, “even if you’re a bad student.”
“In other words, if he thinks it’s dangerous out there, he or she, whoever is president, can say, ‘I’m sorry, folks. Not now please, we’ve got enough problems.’ We’re talking about the safety of our nation, the safety and security of our people,” he said.
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