A three-judge federal appeals court panel on Thursday refused to reinstate President Donald Trump's executive order temporarily barring entry to the United States of nationals from seven predominantly Muslim nations.
The unanimous ruling means that Trump's so-called "travel ban" remains on hold. The court ruled that the Justice Department had not shown that keeping the president's travel restrictions on hold would cause "irreparable injury."
Trump issued a defiant response on Twitter minutes after the ruling. "SEE YOU IN COURT," the president said.
"It's a political decision, and we're going to see them in court," Trump told reporters after the ruling. "This is just a decision that came down, but we’re going to win the case," he said.
On Friday morning, Trump tweeted: "LAWFARE: 'Remarkably, in the entire opinion, the panel did not bother even to cite this (the) statute.' A disgraceful decision!" The quote comes from the Lawfare blog, which had been discussed on Morning Joe just moments before Trump's tweet.
The panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was ruling on the government's request for a stay that would reinstate the travel restrictions, but the ruling also touched on the president's power in matters of national security.
"Federal courts routinely review the constitutionality of — and even invalidate — actions taken by the executive to promote national security, and have done so even in times of conflict," the judges wrote.
The appeals court panel also dismissed Justice Department arguments that presidential decisions about immigration policy related to national security are unreviewable.
"There is no precedent to support this claimed unreviewability, which runs contrary to the fundamental structure of our constitutional democracy," the judges wrote.
The ruling comes after a lower-court judge in Seattle issued a temporary restraining order last Friday effectively blocking Trump's executive order from being implemented.
The Justice Department asked for a stay pending review of an appeal, arguing that Trump had the authority to issue the order and that the Seattle judge's restraining order was overly broad. It also cited harm to the public.
The White House said it was reviewing the appeal court ruling. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said in an interview with Breitbart News that was streamed live on Facebook that the ruling was not on the merits of Trump’s order, and he said “we feel very confident that we’re going to prevail."
Attorneys representing Washington state, saying public universities and the economy were harmed by the order, challenged Trump's order on constitutional grounds.
Trump's Jan. 27 executive order suspended entry to the United States by people from Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Iraq and Yemen for 90 days.
Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson said the appeals court ruling shows that the president is not above the law.
"Bottom line, this is a complete victory for the state of Washington," Ferguson said. "The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, in a unanimous decision, effectively granted everything we sought. We are a nation of laws."
Implementation of Trump's executive order caused chaos at airports, with green card holders, students and professors among those reporting they were detained or turned away.
Trump has said the order is necessary to protect Americans from terrorism. The order follows campaign pledges to put in place "extreme vetting." Critics have called it a "Muslim ban," which Trump has denied.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, called on Trump to withdraw the order following the appeals court decision.
"President Trump ought to see the handwriting on the wall that his executive order is unconstitutional,” Schumer said in a statement.
After U.S. District Judge James Robart issued the restraining order blocking Trump's travel restrictions, visa holders and refugees rushed to take advantage of the pause.
About 60,000 visas that had been canceled were deemed valid after Robart issued his restraining order.
Trump's executive order also suspended the U.S. refugee program for 120 days, and it indefinitely suspended entry to the United States by Syrian refugees.
The International Rescue Committee, Amnesty International and the American Civil Liberties Union were among the groups hailing the appellate ruling.
In the appeals court ruling, the judges said that the government did not offer as evidence any attacks committed in the United States by those from the seven countries.
"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. 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 said in the ruling.