WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork) — A U.S. appeals panel on Thursday refused to reinstate President Donald Trump’s ban on travelers from seven Muslim-majority nations.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled two days after hearing arguments on the legality of Trump’s immigration order, which temporarily banned travelers from seven predominately Muslim countries from coming to the United States.
The three-judge panel ruled that they would not block a lower-court ruling that suspended the ban and allowed previously barred travelers to enter the U.S.
The travel ban will remain on hold until a final decision comes.
An appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court is expected. In a statement in response to the decision, the Department of Justice released a statement reading, “The Justice Department is reviewing the decision and considering its options.”
President Trump himself also responded via Twitter, all in capital letters.
Trump also spoke at the White House Thursday night, blasting the unanimous ruling.
“It’s a political decision and we will see them in court,” he said. “We have a situation where the security of our country is at stake, and it’s a very, very serious, serious situation… but we are going to win the case.”
As CBS2’s Brian Conybeare reported, the three-judge panel rejected the arguments that the constitution gives the president wide latitude to limit immigration, and that the anti-terror restrictions he signed last month are not reviewable by the courts.
“Here’s what the 9th Circuit had to say about that: ‘There is no precedent to support this claimed unreviewability, which runs contrary to the fundamental structure of our constitutional democracy,’” said Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson.
Instead, the judges said thousands of people traveling from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen have been harmed by the travel ban, and that it is not clear that the president’s legal team would prevail on the merits of the overall case.
The decision only keeps the order targeting immigrants from seven Muslim majority nations “on hold.”
“This is not the final word on this policy,” said CBS News Legal Correspondent Paula Reid.
Reid noted that the judges did not rule on the constitutionality of the order, which caused widespread protests. The judges also did not rule on whether the order illegally targeted Muslims because of their religion.
“The courts won’t decide for several months whether or not the president’s executive order — the so-called travel ban — was constitutional,” Reid said. “Now it’s going to go back down to the lower court and work its way potentially all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court.”
The Department of Justice could also ask a larger panel of justice to rehear the case, but Reid reported that the DOJ is more likely to take the case to the Supreme Court, because the full 9th Circuit is politically liberal and is not likely to be sympathetic on a second attempt.
U.S. District Judge James Robart in Seattle issued a temporary restraining order halting the ban last week after Washington state and Minnesota sued. The Justice Department appealed to the 9th Circuit.
Government lawyers argued that the ban was a “lawful exercise” of the president’s authority and that the seven countries have raised terrorism concerns.
The states said Trump’s executive order unconstitutionally blocked entry based on religion.
“It really sends a positive message to refugees, immigrants and people worldwide about our judicial system,” Abraham Hooper, with the Council on American Islamic Relations, told WCBS 880’s Myles Miller. “Refugees fleeing persecution and violence can now find a safe haven.”
Meanwhile, Trump fired back Thursday following reports that he’s been criticized by his own Supreme Court nominee.
The president said Neil Gorsuch’s comments have been misrepresented. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, said that’s not the case.
At the White House on Thursday, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, was sworn in as attorney general.
“Today’s ceremony should be seen as a clear message to the gang members and drug dealers terrorizing innocent people: Your day is over,” Trump said.
Also on Capitol Hill, Gorsuch called on Congress while ignoring questions.
“Do you condemn remarks by the president about federal judges?” reporters asked.
Blumenthal met with Gorsuch on Wednesday and said the judge made comments critical of the president.
“He said to me, he finds disheartening and demoralizing the repeated abhorrent attacks by the president of the United States on the independence of the judiciary,” Blumenthal said.
However, the White House said Gorsuch’s comments were misrepresented and that he wasn’t criticizing Trump, just speaking generally.
“He literately went out of his way to say I’m not commenting on a specific instance. So to take what he said about a generalization and apply it to a specific, is exactly what he was intending not to do,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said.
The White House also responded Thursday to criticism about Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway, who promoted Ivanka Trump’s product line on Fox News.
“Go buy Ivanka’s stuff is what I would tell you. I’m going to, I hate shopping, I’m going to get some for myself today. It’s a wonderful line, I own some of it,” she said. “I’m going to give it a free commercial here. Go buy it today everybody. You can find it online.”
The White House said it has addressed the issue with Conway.
“Kellyanne has been counseled, and that’s all we’re going to go with. She’s been counseled on that subject, and that’s it,” Spicer said.
Trump also met with airline executives, saying what he calls a “big-league” tax announcement is coming soon to lower the burden on American businesses. He also signed executive orders targeting drug cartels, violent crimes and crimes against law enforcement officers.
Later Thursday night, the Senate will debate and possibly vote on the nomination of Tom Price to head the Dept. of Health and Human Services.