By: Kartikay Mehrotra , Erik Larson , and Bob Van Voris
First in Hawaii, then Maryland — a pair of judges halted President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban before it could be enforced, slamming it for discriminating against Muslims and handing the administration another setback on a core campaign issue.
Decisions by federal judges Derrick Watson and Theodore Chuang blocked a 90-day ban on new visa approvals for people from six Muslim-majority nations. After Watson issued a temporary ban Wednesday on the entire order, Chuang reinforced the decision by halting enforcement of a single paragraph aimed at stopping the entry of nationals from Syria, Iran, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Sudan.
The rulings are a victory for a group of states, advocacy groups, technology companies and universities that challenged the executive order they said damaged the economy and was at odds with the nation’s founding principles. The White House had spent weeks crafting and carefully rolling out its March 6 order after other judges had swiftly rejected the first travel ban, which Trump announced with great fanfare days after taking office and immediately spurred chaos at airports across the country.
The decision to halt the policy before it could take effect Thursday will almost certainly be appealed — first to the same San Francisco appellate court that rejected the previous ban — and then to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Once again, a judge cited Trump’s remarks on the campaign trail as an indication of his intent to keep Muslims out of the country. Watson, in Honolulu, pointed to the president’s plainly worded statements before the election, saying they “betray the executive order’s stated secular purpose,” while the real motive was “temporarily suspending the entry of Muslims.”
Trump, speaking at a rally in Nashville, said the travel restrictions were needed to protect Americans from “radical Islamic terrorists” and vowed to take the case all the way to the Supreme court.