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Trump blasts 'so-called' federal judge's block of travel ban

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 4/02/2017 Doug Stanglin, and Melanie Eversley

President Trump, in a Saturday morning tweetstorm, personally challenged the credentials of the "so-called" federal judge in Seattle who issued a nationwide temporary restraining order blocking the travel ban Trump put in place last week.

U.S. District Senior Judge James Robart, who was appointed to his post in 2004 by George W. Bush, issued an order Friday night that immediately lifted the ban that sought to block people from seven majority-Muslim countries,  or any refugees, from entering the country.

In a series of tweets from his winter retreat in Mar-a-Lago, Trump took on the judge's decision: "The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!"

In issuing his decision, Robart was siding with Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who filed a suit to block key provisions of the president's executive order, which also bars Syrian refugees from entering the country.

In a conference call Friday night, airlines were told that the U.S. government would reinstate traveling visas that were previously canceled. In addition, U.S. Customs and Border Protection advised airlines that refugees possessing U.S. visas will be allowed to enter as well, according to media reports.

Trump, however, took issue with the ruling, tweeting: "When a country is no longer able to say who can, and who cannot, come in & out, especially for reasons of safety &.security - big trouble!" 

The president also noted, "Interesting that certain Middle-Eastern countries agree with the ban. They know if certain people are allowed in it's death & destruction!"

Even before the president's comments, the White House said the federal government would challenge the judge's decision.

In Washington state, however,  Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, hailed Ferguson and applauded the decision.

"We should feel heartened by today's victory and more resolute than ever that we are fighting on the right side of history," the governor said in a statement. "Thank you to (Attorney General Bob Ferguson) and his team for making the case that no person - not even the president - is above the law."

Amnesty International also applauded the development.

"This decision is a short-term relief for thousands of people whose lives have been upended, but Congress must step in and block this unlawful ban for good," organization spokesman Eric Ferrero said in a statement. "Trump's Muslim ban is inhumane, unlawful, and discriminatory, which is why the courts and the public want it to be stopped."

© Provided by USA Today Ferguson said his team has been working around-the-clock for the last week on reversing the executive order.

"It's obviously an historic decision and an important one for the rule of law and for the people of the state of Washington and the people of our country," Ferguson said. "I have said from the beginning: it is not the loudest voice that prevails in the courtroom, it is the Constitution, and that's what we heard from Judge Robart today."

The decision is effective immediately nationwide, Ferguson said.

A lawyer with the national office of the American Civil Liberties Union said the decision was significant.

"The decision in Washington reaffirms that the courts will stand up to the president," said Lee Gelernt, the lawyer who successfully argued for a restraining order against Trump's ban in federal court in Brooklyn, N.Y.

"The courts have and will continue to recognize that this executive order favors Christians and disfavors Muslims and that is antithetical to American values and flatly inconsistent with the United States Constitution."

Word of the decision came shortly after revelations about an earlier decision by U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton out of Boston, who refused to extend a temporary order that allowed some people affected by Trump's ban to enter the country.

Gorton ruled that the ACLU failed to demonstrate a need for an ongoing restraining order, according to the Boston Globe.

The ACLU and other advocacy groups were aiming to extend the restraining order. Trump's stay affected travelers coming in from the seven majority-Muslim countries and spurred protests at airports across the country.

With Friday's decision in place, it is now up to federal government to try to seek an appeal, Washington Solicitor General Noah Purcell said. Washington state officials will confer with the federal government over the next several weeks, he said.

Department of Justice attorneys defending the executive order highlight the president’s broad legal authority to restrict entry of immigrants when deemed in the national interest of the United States, citing congressional authority in the Immigration and Nationality Act.

In this case, the federal attorneys argue the purpose of the executive order is “intended to protect the American people from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals.”


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