The administration will appeal the decision to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals
The federal judge in Hawaii said "the court pretend it has not seen what it has"
The Justice Department has filed a notice to appeal a Hawaii-based federal judge’s ruling that indefinitely halted core portions of the President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban.
Two weeks ago, US District Court Judge Derrick Watson blocked the executive order on the grounds that it likely violates the Establishment Clause of the Constitution by disfavoring Muslims.
But Watson’s initial decision was only a limited freeze of the executive order through a temporary restraining order.
As a result, the plaintiffs asked the judge to convert that decision into a longer-term preliminary injunction and Watson agreed Wednesday night, meaning that the President’s 90-day ban on foreign nationals from six Muslim-majority countries and the 120-day ban on all refugees entering the country are now blocked indefinitely, unless any higher court changes Watson’s order or the state’s lawsuit is otherwise resolved.
The Justice Department has not yet filed its formal appellate brief in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, where the case will eventually be heard, but that is the next step.
The Justice Department said Thursday morning it would continue to defend the executive order.
“The Justice Department strongly disagrees with the federal district court’s ruling. The President’s executive order fails squarely within his lawful authority in seeking to protect our nation’s security, and the department will continue to defend this executive order in the courts,” a department spokesperson said in a statement.
The reasoning in Watson’s decision Wednesday largely followed his decision from two weeks ago, which used Supreme Court precedent to conclude that Trump’s statements about Muslims during the presidential campaign speak to the constitutionality of the executive order.
“The court will not crawl into a corner, pull the shutters closed, and pretend it has not seen what it has,” Watson wrote Wednesday.
“The court concludes that, on the record before it, plaintiffs have met their burden of establishing a strong likelihood of success on the merits of their Establishment Clause claim.”
DOJ has separately appealed a different federal judge’s decision to halt the 90-day travel ban to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.
CNN’s Traci Tamura contributed to this report.